ABBREVIATED MASONIC GRAVESIDE SERVICE
Brethren, the imperious mandate of the dread messenger, death, against whose entrance within our circle the barred doors and the Tyler’s sword afford no defense, calls upon us to mourn the loss of one of the sons of light.
The body of our beloved brother lies before us in its narrow house overtaken by that fate which must sooner or later overtake us all; which no power or station, no virtue or bravery, no wealth or honor, no tears of friends or agonies of loved ones can avert; teaching the impressive lesson, continually repeated yet soon forgotten, that each of us must ere long pass through the valley of the shadow of death. Let us pray. Brother Chaplain.
The L*rd bless us and keep us! The L*rd make his face to shine upon us and be gracious unto us! The L*rd lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace! And unto him, the king, eternal, invisible, the only wise G*d, be honor and glory for ever and ever! Amen!
Brethren, the solemn notes that betoken the dissolution of this earthly tabernacle have again alarmed our outer door and another spirit has been summoned to the land where our fathers have gone before us. Again we are called upon to assemble among the habitations of the dead to behold the narrow house appointed for all the living. Here around us sleep the unnumbered dead. The gentle breeze fans their earthly covering, but they heed it not. The sunshine and the storm pass over them, but they are not disturbed. Stones and monuments symbolize the affection of surviving friends, yet no sound proceeds save that silent but thrilling admonition: “seek ye the narrow path and straight gate that lead to eternal life.”
While we drop the sympathetic tear over the grave of our deceased brother, let us cast around his foibles, whatever they may have been, the broad mantel of masonic charity, nor withhold from his memory the commendations that his virtues claim at our hands. Perfection on earth has never yet been attained; the wisest as well as the best of men have gone astray, suffer then, the apologies of human nature to plead for him who can no longer plead for himself.
The present occasion will have been in vain and useless if it fails to excite our serious reflections and strengthen our resolution of amendment. Let us therefore each embrace the present moment and, while time and opportunity permit, prepare for that great change which we all know must come; when the pleasures of the world shall cease to delight and be as a poison to our lips; and when the happy reflections on a well spent life afford the only consolation. Finally when it shall please the Grand Master of the universe to summon us into his eternal presence, may the trestle board of our lives pass such inspection that it may be given to each of us to eat of the hidden manna and to receive the white stone with a new name that will insure perpetual and unspeakable happiness at his right hand.
**(unfold and hold apron before speaking)**
This white linen apron represents the lambskin or white leather apron. It is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a mason; more ancient than the Golden Fleece or Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star and Garter when worthily worn. This emblem I now deposit on the casket of our deceased brother (**place apron on casket. Return**). By it we are reminded of that purity of life and conduct so essentially necessary to gaining admission to the celestial lodge above, where the supreme architect of the universe resides.
**(remove right glove and hold up before speaking)**
This glove is a symbol of fidelity and is emblematical of that Masonic friendship which bound us to him whose tenement of clay lies before us. It reminds us that while these mortal eyes shall see him not again, yet by the practice of the tenants of our noble order, and the firm faith and steadfast trust in the Supreme Architect, we hope to clasp once more his banished hand in love and friendship. (*place glove on casket. Remove left glove and present to widow or family. Return*). What virtue unites, death never parts.
**(hold evergreen in right hand, raised)**
The evergreen, which once marked the resting spot of one illustrious in Masonic history, is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul. By this we are reminded that we have an immortal part within us that shall survive the grave and which shall never, never, never die. By it we are admonished that though like our brother whose remains lie before us, our bodies shall soon be clothed in the habiliments of death and deposited in the silent tomb, yet, through our believe in the mercy of G*d, we may confidently hope that our soul will soon bloom in eternal spring. This I deposit in the grave. Alas my brother: Brethren, join me in public grand honors thrice.
**(on the third)**:
(arms crossed) we cherish his memory here.
(hands raised) we commend his spirit to G*d, who gave it.
(hands at sides) we consign his body to the ground.
From time immemorial it has been the custom of Free & Accepted Masons, at the request of a brother or a member of his family, to accompany his body to the place of internment and there to deposit his remains in the usual formalities.
In conformity to this usage we have assembled in the character of masons, to consign this body to the earth whence it came and to offer up the last tribute of our affections, thereby demonstrating the sincerity of our past esteem and steady attachment to the principles of the order. Unto the grave we consign the body of our deceased brother, there to remain until the general resurrection, in favorable expectation that his immortal soul may then partake of the joys which have been prepared for the righteous from the foundation of the world. And may Almighty G*d, in his infinite goodness, at the grand tribunal of unbiased justice, extend his mercy towards him and all of us, and crown our hopes with everlasting bliss in the expounded realm of a boundless eternity. This we beg for the honor of his name, to whom be all the glory, now and forever. Amen!
For as much as it hath pleased Almighty G*d to take out of the world the soul of our deceased brother, we therefore commit his body to the ground. Earth to Earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Sleep on, my brother. Brother Chaplain.
May the blessings of heaven rest upon us and all regular masons, may brotherly love prevail and every moral and social virtue cement us. Amen!