THE Degree of Mark Master, which is the Fourth in the Masonic series, is, historically considered, of the utmost importance, since we are informed that, by its influence, each operative Mason, at the building of King Solomon's Temple, was known and distinguished, and the disorder and confusion which might otherwise have attended so immense an undertaking was completely prevented, and not only the craftsmen themselves, but every part of their workmanship was discriminated with the greatest nicety and the utmost facility.
It is claimed by Masonic writers,1 that this Degree in Masonry was instituted by King Solomon, at the building of the Temple, for the purpose of detecting impostors, while paying wages to the craftsmen. Each operative was required to put his mark upon the product of his labor, and these distinctive marks were all known to the Senior Grand Warden. If any of the workman-ship was found to be defective, it was a matter of no difficulty for the overseers to ascertain at once who was the imperfect craftsman, and remedy the defect. Thus the faulty workman was punished, without diminishing the wages of the diligent and faithful craftsmen. A candidate upon whom this Degree has been conferred is said to have been "advanced to the honorary Degree of Mark Master."
Eight officers are necessary to open a Lodge in this Degree. viz.:
1. R. W. Master; 2. S. G. Warden; 3. J. G. Warden; 4. Senior Deacon; 5. Junior Deacon; 6. Master Overseer; 7. Senior Overseer; S. Junior Overseer.
The officers of a Chapter rank as follows, viz.: the High Priest, as R. W. Master; King, as Senior Grand Warden; Scribe, as Junior Grand Warden; Captain of the Host, as Master of Ceremonies; Principal Sojourner, as Senior Deacon; Royal Arch Captain, as Junior Deacon; Master of the Third Veil, as Master Overseer; Master of the Second Veil, as Senior Overseer; Master of the First Veil, as .Junior Overseer. The Treasurer, Secretary, and Tyler, corresponding in rank with the same officers in other Degrees. These officers are filled by the officers of the Chapter under whose warrant the Lodge is held.
The symbolic color of the Mark Degree is purple. The apron is of white lambskin, edged with purple, and the collar of purple, edged with gold. But as Mark Lodges are no longer independent bodies, but always held under the warrant of a Royal Arch Chapter, the collars, aprons, and jewels of the Chapter are generally made use of in conferring the Mark Degree.
Lodges of Mark Masters are "dedicated to Hiram, the Builder."
The interior arrangements of the Lodge, and the positions of the Master, Wardens, Deacons, Secretary, and Treasurer, are the same as those in the Entered Apprentices' Degree (p. 8). The Master Overseer takes his seat on the right of the Right Worshipful Master in the east. The Senior Overseer sits on the right of the Senior Grand Warden in the west, and his Junior on the right of the Junior Grand Warden in the south.
Right Worshipful Master (giving a rap with his gavel.)--Brethren, I am about to open a Lodge of Mark Master Masons in this place, for the dispatch of business. I will thank you for your attention and assistance. If there is any person present who has not taken this Degree, he is requested to retire.
To Senior Grand Warden:
Brother Senior, are you satisfied that all present are Mark Masters?
S. G. W.--Right Worshipful, I wish the pass-word might be given by the brethren.
The two Deacons thereupon go round and receive the word, which is JOPPA, in the same manner as in the Master Mason's Degree (p. 20).
R. W M. (giving one rap.)--Brother Junior Deacon, the first care of congregated Masons?
J. D. (rising on his feet, and, at the same time, giving a sign--see Fig. 20, p. 154.)--To see the Lodge tyled, Right Worshipful.
R. W. M.--Perform that part of your duty, and inform the Tyler that we are about to open a Lodge of Mark Master Masons