Skip to main content

Calm, the Good Man Meets His Fate (& a Masonic Funeral Ritual)

This monument is erected by order of the most worshipfull Grand Lodge of Georgia, to the Memory of their former Grand Chaplain, Reverend Thomas Darley, who departed this life, 18th April A.L. 5832, A.D. 1832, in the 63rd year of his age: and who was a shining light to his Masonic Brethren, to imitate in his walk, as a man, Mason, and Christian.

Rev. Darley was laid to rest at Waverly Hall Cemetery in Harris County, Georgia. According to a death notice found in a local paper, he left behind a wife and 16 children. On the back side of Rev. Darley's monument is the following epitaph:

"Calm, the good man meets his fate,
Guards celestial around him wait!
See! he bursts these mortal chains,
And o'er death the victory gains."

While the symbol and inscription on the gravestone clearly states Rev. Darley was a Mason, there are a couple of other clues you might not be aware of that further bolster this fact. Though I have yet to find a simple explanation as to how, the letters and numbers A.L. 5832 have ties to the history of Freemasonry.

Also, the epitaph is connected to Masonic history. A Google search of the first line of the epitaph, "Calm the good man meets his fate," reveals a poem written by David Vinton (1774-1833). Mr. Vinton was a prominent member of the Masonic fraternity as a member of Mount Vernon Lodge No. 4 of Providence, Rhode Island. He compiled and published a hymnal entitled "The Masonic Minstrel" in 1816. The epitaph on Rev. Darley's stone is the final stanza in a dirge included in the book set to "Pleyel's Hymn." A dirge is a somber song expressing mourning or grief, such as would be appropriate for performance at a funeral.

That leads me to Funeral Service: Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons. While the link leads you to information from a pamphlet distributed in South Carolina, the information appears to apply to all members of the fraternity. Though I cannot say for sure how often this funeral ritual was actually performed (or if it was used at the funeral for Rev. Darley), here are a few highlights:

"No Freemason can be interred with the formalities of the Order, unless it be at his own request, or by that of some of his family, communicated to the Master of the Lodge of which he died a member (foreigners and transient brethren excepted); nor unless he has received the Master's degree; and from this restriction there can be no exception. Fellow Crafts and Apprentices are not entitled to funeral obsequies; nor to attend the Masonic processions on such occasions.

When the Master of a Lodge receives notice of a Master Mason's death, and of his request to be interred as a Mason, he must satisfy himself of its propriety; and then, being informed of the time appointed for the funeral, the Master may invite as many Lodges as he may think proper, and the members of those Lodges may accompany their officers in form; but the whole ceremony must be under the direction of the Master of the Lodge to which the deceased belonged, and he and his officers must be duly honored and cheerfully obeyed on the solemn occasion.

The proper clothing for a Masonic funeral, is a black hat, black or dark clothes, white gloves and a plain white lambskin apron, with a band of crape around the left arm above the elbow, and a sprig of evergreen on the left breast. The Master's gavel, the Warden's columns, the Deacon's and Steward's rods, the Tiler's sword, the Bible, the Book of Constitutions, and the Marshal's baton, should be draped with black crape. The officers of the Lodge and past Masters and Grand Officers, may wear their official jewels.

The brethren being assembled at the Lodge room, or some other convenient place, the Master of the Lodge to which the deceased belonged opens the Lodge in the third degree. A procession is then formed to the house of the deceased and thence to the grave...

...When the procession arrives at the gate of the church-yard, the Lodge to which the deceased brother belonged, and the mourners and attendants on the corpse, halt, until the members of the other Lodges have formed a circle round the grave, when an opening is made to receive them. They then advance to the grave; where the clergyman and officers of the acting Lodge take their station at the head of the grave, and the mourners at the foot. The Marshal will remove the apron from the coffin to be handed in to the Master at the proper time; the coffin is then lowered into the grave and after the clergyman has concluded the religious services of the church, (unless the same have been previously concluded) the Masonic service begins...

...[After words are spoken according to ritual] They then form a chain, with the left arm over the right, and march three times around the grave, while they sing the... [Pleyel's] hymn..."

More words according to ritual are spoken, and the members return to the lodge and close with the usual benediction.

Another interesting note connecting to Rev. Darley: he would've been one to perform a service such as this for a Grand Officer, during the time he was Grand Chaplain.


Jenny said…
Sixteen children! Wow.That's quite a legacy
MisterNiceGuy said…
The answer to your question is anno lucis. The year of light. This is used instead of bc and ad. 4000 years is added to the ad calender that we use .Masons consider year 1 as the year the world was created.
S. Lincecum said…
Thank you so much, MisterNiceGuy! This simple and clear explanation is greatly appreciated.

Popular posts from this blog

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

Why do people put rocks on grave stones? Some time ago, I learned that the rocks signified a visitor. That is true enough, but I decided to learn a little more about the custom and share my findings with you. Putting rocks on tombstones is most often described as a Jewish custom. There are many "Ask a Rabbi" columns out there, but I did not find one that knew for sure where the custom originated. They all agreed, however, that a rock symbolized a visitor and when put on a tombstone said, "I remember you." I also read that some people pick up a rock wherever they are when they think of a person that has passed. Then, the next time they visit the grave, they place the rock to say, "I wish you were here." Rabbi Shraga Simmons offers a deeper meaning: "We are taught that it is an act of ultimate kindness and respect to bury someone and place a marker at the site. After a person is buried, of course, we can no longer participate in burying them. H

Southern Cross of Honor

I'm late to this discussion, but it's one I'd like to join. :-) Terry Thornton at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Hill Country started with Grave Marker Symbols: The Southern Cross of Honor and UCV (link no longer available). Judith Shubert at The Graveyard Rabbit of the Covered Bridges continued with Hood County Texas: C.S.A. Veterans & Southern Cross of Honor Symbol . [UPDATE, 1 June 2009: Judith has moved this post to the blog, Cemeteries with Texas Ties . The link has been corrected to reflect this move. You may also link to her article via her nice comment on this post.] Wikipedia states: The Southern Cross of Honor was a military decoration meant to honor the officers, noncommissioned officers, and privates for their valor in the armed forces of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. It was formally approved by the Congress of the Confederate States on October 13, 1862, and was originally intended to be on par with the Union Arm

Thursday Link Love: EyeWitness To History

Yesterday, a link was added to the Genealogy Research Resources Group at Diigo. The link was to the website titled EyeWitness to History through the eyes of those who lived it . It's a great site, and I encourage all to visit it. Here are several items I found while snooping around. - Inside a Nazi Death Camp, 1944 : "Hitler established the first concentration camp soon after he came to power in 1933. The system grew to include about 100 camps divided into two types: concentration camps for slave labor in nearby factories and death camps for the systematic extermination of "undesirables" including Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally retarded and others." - Crash of the Hindenburg, 1937 : "Radio reporter Herbert Morrison, sent to cover the airship's arrival, watched in horror. His eye witness description of the disaster was the first coast-to-coast radio broadcast and has become a classic piece of audio history." [You ca

The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?"

So I answered, "O Lord God, You know."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, 'O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!' Thus says the Lord God to these bones: 'Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live...'" (Ezekiel 37:1-5, NKJV)