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Free Mason Celebration in Philadelphia

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

December 28.—This day, agreeable to the constitution of the Most Ancient and Worshipful Society of Free and accepted Masons, was celebrated at Philadelphia, the Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist. At nine o’clock in the morning near three hundred of the brethren assembled at the College, and at eleven o’clock went in regular procession from thence to Christ Church to attend divine service. The order of procession was as follows, viz.:—

1. The Sword Bearer. 2. Two Deacons, with blue wands tipped with gold. 3. The three orders, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, borne by three brethren. 4. The Holy Bible and Book of Constitutions, on two crimson velvet cushions, borne by the Grand Treasurer and Grand Secretary. 5. A Reverend Brother. 6. Four Deacons, bearing wands. 7. His Excellency our illustrious brother George Washington, Esquire, supported by the Grand Master and his Deputy. 8. The two Grand Wardens, bearing the proper pillars. 9. The past Masters of the different Lodges. 10. The present Masters of Lodges. 11. The Senior Wardens. 12. The Junior Wardens. 13. The Secretaries. 14. The Treasurers.1 15. Brother Proctor’s Band of Music. 16. Visiting Brethren. 17. The Members of different Lodges, walking two and two, according to seniority.

The procession entered the church in the order of their march, and the brethren took their seats in the pews of the middle aisle, which were kept empty for their reception. Prayers were then read by the Reverend Mr. White, and the following anthem was sung in its proper place by sundry of the brethren, accompanied by the organ and other instrumental music, viz:—




Behold how good and joyful a thing it is,
Brethren, to dwell together in Unity.


I will give thanks unto Thee, 0 Lord! with my whole heart secretly among my brethren, and in the congregation will I praise Thee. I will speak of the marvellous Works of Thy Hands, the Sun, the Moon, and the Stars, which thou hast ordained.


The people that walked in darkness hath seen a great light, and on them that dwelt in the Land of the shadow of Death, doth the glorious light of Jehovah shine.


Thou hast gathered us from the East and from the West, from the North and from the South; Thou hast made us companions for the mighty upon Earth, even for Princes of great Nations.


O! I AM! inspire us with Wisdom and Strength to support us in all our troubles, that we may worship Thee in the Beauty or Holiness.

After which a most excellent and well-adapted sermon was preached by our reverend and worthy brother, William Smith, D. D. The text was taken from 1st Peter, 2d chapter and 16th verse. The brethren have since requested the sermon to be published, and the profits to be applied to the use of the poor.

After divine service the procession returned in the same order to the college; the musical bells belonging to the church and the band of music playing proper masonic tunes. The brethren being all new clothed, and officers in the proper jewels of their respective lodges, and their other badges of dignity, made a genteel appearance.

The brethren afterwards departed to their respective lodges, where they dined together with their usual harmony and sociability, the sum of four hundred pounds having been collected in church among the brethren and other charitable fellow-citizens who honored them with their company, for the relief of the poor.2


1 Of the different private Lodges.
2 Pennsylvania Packet, January 2, 1779.