The festive spirit was slowly awakening on a wintry Friday evening as the visitors and brethren arrived for the meeting of Croxteth United Service Lodge No 786 at the Artists Club, Liverpool. The bar area was decked with festive lights and decorations, reminding everyone that the arrival of Christmas is imminent.
WM Peter Wall welcomed all and proceeded to open the lodge in fine form, assisted by several visiting brethren from Victoria lodge No 2360, Paul Dwan who was acting as junior warden, and Harry Jones who later in the ceremony stood in as inner guard. Peter is also a past master of Victoria Lodge.
Peter requested Harry Jones, to honour the lodge and occupy the position of inner guard. This was the cue for grand officer Bill Culshaw, who on this occasion was standing in the role of senior deacon, to collect Joe Williams, who is the son of the treasurer Joe Williams, and conducted him superbly around the lodge. Peter and his wardens Roy Carey and Paul Dwan were sublime in the delivery of ritual for Joe.
Just when we thought that it couldn’t get any better, the tyler, Paul Harford, was called into the lodge and delivered the charge of a master Mason. Thereby completing the raising of Joe to the sublime degree of a master Mason for which ceremony he was certainly most prepared, and by the level of recital it was clear that all the brethren who had taken part had worked extremely hard to be properly prepared too.
In etymological terms, the first use of the word third degree was found in Henry Lyte’s translation of A New Herbal or History of Plants published in 1586, which describes the humours in relation to first, second and third degrees. Those herbs which would be hot in the third degree would be juniper, ginger and anise.
More recent examples, appear to stem from the early 19th century, when it is described as giving someone the third degree, meaning asking serious or intensive questions, with its origins obviously derived from an interpretation of the third degree ceremony, such a phrase being in common use, and it is interesting to see the impact of Freemasonry on the English language.
Joe was then congratulated by Peter having been ‘given the third degree’ and raised to the sublime degree of a master Mason and resumed his rightful place as inner guard. The lodge having completed all necessary business was duly closed. The many visiting brethren and members retiring to the fine dining room, under the watchful gaze of the myriad of portraits of former presidents of the Artists Club.
A delightful festive board of friendship, laughter and well-meaning toasts followed, with a toast to Joe from his father Joe, and with judicious use of the lodge firing glasses each toast was loudly celebrated, until all too soon the evenings celebrations were over.