Why Should Craft Freemasons Join the Royal Arch?

History & Relation to the Craft

 This is an order in Freemasonry, closely associated with Craft Freemasonry.

The first documented evidence of a ‘Royal Arch’ comes from Ireland in 1743; it seems likely that this was an ‘added extra’ worked within craft lodges in England , Ireland and Scotland for many years. Thus it came to be regarded, by the Antients in England , as a fourth degree in Freemasonry.
The Moderns, on the other hand, do not appear to have officially recognised the degree at all (with a few exceptions), leading in due course, to completely separate Royal Arch Chapters.
These differences were partially resolved at the Union of the Grand Lodges in 1813, by a compromise: the new United Grand Lodge of England declared the Royal Arch to be an official and accepted part of ‘Pure and Antient Freemasonry.
In December 2003 the United Grand Lodge of England acknowledged and pronounced the status of the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch to be “an extension to, but neither a superior nor a subordinate part of, the degrees which precede it”.
Whilst the Royal Arch is, therefore, an integral part of Freemasonry and interwoven with the Craft, it is organised as a separate Order, distinct from the Craft degrees, the teachings of which it completes.

Why Should Craft Freemasons Join the Royal Arch?

Pure ancient Freemasonry, which is composed of Craft masonry and Royal Arch masonry, presents the inquiring mind with an inspirational framework for life. Through the lessons presented in the Craft ceremonies, a Freemason is called upon to improve his relationship with his fellows and to practice the three great principles upon which the Craft is founded; brotherly love, relief and truth.

The Royal Arch takes matters further and can be seen to be the superstructure that makes all that has been presented complete and perfect. The ceremony in the Royal Arch is colourful, thought provoking and uplifting. It is based upon the Old Testament legend of the rebuilding of the Temple and invokes, simultaneously, sensations of humility and our dependence on our unseen creator.

The Royal Arch makes good the promise of ‘recovery’ when what is lost in the Third Degree of Craft Masonry is revealed in a fascinating ceremony. Progress through the Royal Arch completes an individual’s journey through pure ancient Freemasonry.

Craft Masons are, therefore, actively encouraged to become members of the Royal Arch in order to further develop and enrich their understanding of Freemasonry. Indeed the RW Provincial Grand Master encourages Master Masons to join the Royal Arch only when they are ready to do so but before joining any other Masonic Order.

What our Companions Say

“I joined the Royal Arch to complete the story which began in the Craft. I stayed for the deeply rich, atmosphere-laden ceremony. “

Phil Saunders

Thames Mariner Chapter No. 8628, Buckinghamshire

“What I love most about the Royal Arch is not just the beauty of the ritual, but its depth. I feel like every time I perform a different part of it, it unlocks something new and meaningful. I just know that for years and years to come I’ll always be discovering new depths to the ceremonies. “

Gur Samuel

Barnato Chapter No. 2265, London

“My main reason for joining Royal Arch was that I enjoyed my first, second and third degree ceremonies and was encouraged to take the next step; I wanted to discover more about Freemasonry in general. What I enjoy most is witnessing a well-delivered exaltation ceremony with as many Companions as possible taking part. “

Ian Williams

Priory Chapter No. 561, Yorkshire, North & East Ridings

“My main reason for joining Royal Arch was that I enjoyed my first, second and third degree ceremonies and was encouraged to take the next step; I wanted to discover more about Freemasonry in general. What I enjoy most is witnessing a well-delivered exaltation ceremony with as many Companions as possible taking part. ”

Nick Brown

St Hugh of Avalon No. 1386

“I joined the Royal Arch as it was presented as a natural part of the Craft, continuing the story in a wonderfully colourful and moving ceremony that I never get tired of either seeing or participating in. I enjoy everything about the Royal Arch, from the ceremony to the regalia, to the fact that you increase your circle of friends and knowledge of the order. I still enjoy it for those reasons, but also the delight in being part of the team that confers the ceremony on new exaltees and seeing their enjoyment of something that all Master Masons should experience. “”

Simon Dodd

United Engineers Chapter No. 3862, London

“When I joined the Royal Arch, I did so not because I was told that I should – it was because I thoroughly enjoyed my Freemasonry. I was keen to find out more and extend my knowledge of Freemasonry in general.”

Richard Barnett


Granite Chapter No. 2028 and Chapter of the Flaming Torch No. 4874, Leicestershire & Rutland

COMPANIONSHIP

Members of the Royal Arch are known as “Companions”. The word Companion is derived from two Latin terms, meaning someone with whom you shared your bread, was one who could be trusted with your life; it suggests a higher affinity than that of a brother. It is a particularly apt description of a member of the Royal Arch, who has a duty to support and encourage his Companions and to attain a high standard of conduct in his personal life. New Members very quickly discover why we say the desire of all Royal Arch Masons is to “please each other and to unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness”.

QUALIFICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP

Membership is open to Freemasons of all faiths who have been Master Masons for at least four weeks.

Members of the Chapter to which they seek admission must propose, a second and ballot for them.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO JOIN?

When a mason is entirely comfortable with his Craft Masonry and its ethos. The interval between becoming a Master Mason and his exaltation into a Royal Arch Chapter is, however, a matter for each individual and will largely depend on his circumstances and readiness for its teachings.

Early application, however, provides a greater opportunity to give him the option of just sitting back and absorbing the full meaning of the beautiful ceremony and its teachings before taking more active participation in office.

WHICH CHAPTER SHOULD A CRAFT MASON JOIN?

A mason is not restricted to joining the Chapter that may be associated with his Lodge; he will be made welcome in any Chapter of his choice. Indeed, many Brethren choose to join a Chapter un-connected with their Lodge, or even in a different Masonic Hall, as this affords them the opportunity to develop and widen their relationships with other masons, thereby enhancing the companionship and happiness Royal Arch masonry offers.

MEETINGS

Most Royal Arch Chapters meet four times a year, and these meetings are called ‘Convocations’. One of these is the occasion of Installation, when the Principals and Officers of a Chapter usually change every year, as in the Craft. Once in the office, there will usually be one rehearsal for each Convocation.

CEREMONIES

Apart from the Installation of each of the three Principals, there is only one: Exaltation, when a new member is admitted to the Chapter on a most impressive, colourful and moving occasion. Convocations are usually followed by a meal at the Social Board. Chapters, like Lodges, are encouraged to share rituals to reduce the workload on any one member, especially new members.

REGALIA

Three items; an apron, sash and breast jewel, all of a distinctive design. The breast jewel is worn by Freemasons who are members of the Royal Arch at their Craft meetings to evidence to brethren their membership of the Royal Arch. The total cost of the regalia, new, is around £65. Chapters often have used regalia at a much-reduced cost as, in some areas, a register is held of members who have such regalia for disposal. There are minor changes to all three items needed on becoming a Principal of your Chapter.