Royal Arch Chapters are encouraged to use a scheme named “Setting the Scene“, as a way to make the Royal Arch Exaltation ceremony more understandable and enjoyable for all Companions.
The Holy Royal Arch is the next stage in Masonry following the Craft and the two orders are inextricably linked.
The Craft degrees use the biblical story of King Solomon’s Temple as an object of construction, and the events that surrounded its building.
We are told that the Temple at Jerusalem stood for some 400 years until being destroyed by an army of King Nebuchadnezzar and the people taken into captivity to Babylon.
The Royal Arch takes up and completes the Masonic narrative of King Solomon’s Temple, paying particular attention to the return of the people to Jerusalem from their Babylonish captivity to rebuild the city and holy temple.
In clearing the ground of the original temple for the foundations of the second temple, the candidate makes a number of discoveries which emphasise the centrality of God to man’s life and existence and, without transgressing the bounds of religion, leads the candidate to a consideration of the nature of God and his personal relationship with Him, whatever his religion may be.
The Royal Arch is the completion of ‘pure ancient Masonry’ and the UGLE Book of Constitutions clearly spells out the connection between the Craft and the Royal Arch as follows: “Masonry consists of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft, and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’.
It then adds that the Holy Royal Arch is ‘an extension to, but neither a superior nor a subordinate part of, the Degrees which precede it’.
The purpose of Setting the Scene is to give a friendly welcome to a candidate and put him at ease by giving a brief introduction to the main parts of the ceremony.
This is so that he has an understanding of the story of the ceremony he is about to pass through and better appreciate the whole experience.
The Exaltation Ceremony is rather complicated and not all Companions fully understand the ritual story, probably because it is somewhat different to the Craft and is not heard as often.
Also, unlike the Craft, it can be confusing because the location of the story changes throughout the ceremony without any change in the scenery.
So, it might help members of the Chapter to understand what is happening if a nominated reader explains the ceremony during the intervals when the Sojourners have retired from the Chapter:
There are, then, two sets of the Readings: A version to be read to the Candidate outside the Chapter and a Companions’ version to be delivered simultaneously within the Chapter.
Booklets of Setting the Scene have been printed explaining the scheme and the narrative to be used, and they will be forwarded to all Chapters in the Province.
Copies of that Booklet can also be downloaded or obtained from the Middlesex Provincial Office.
E.Comp. Michael Karn, PAGDC
3rd Provincial Grand Principal
Download a copy of the booklet here:- Setting the Scene (PDF)
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