Table of Contents

Thomas Smith Webb
  1. Most Excellent Master's Song
  2. Master's Song
  3. Senior Warden's Song
  4. Junior Warden's Song
  5. Senior Warden's Toast
  6. Past Master's Song
  7. Anthem: Let There Be Light
  8. Installation Ode
  9. The Red Cross Debate
  10. A short biography of T. S. Webb
Two of these poems are also available in The Poetry of Freemasonry, edited by Rob Morris:
Let There Be Light
The Red Cross Debate

Most Excellent Master's Song

To be sung when one is received into that degree.

All hail to the morning
That bids us rejoice;
The temple's completed,
Exalt high each voice;
The cap-stone is finish'd,
Our labour is o'er;
The sound of the gavel
Shall hail us no more.

To the Power Almighty, who ever has guided
The tribes of old Israel, exalting their fame,
To him who hath govern'd our hearts undivided,
Let's send forth our voices, to praise his great name.

Companions, assemble
On this joyful day
Th' occasion is glorious,
The key-stone to lay;
Fulfill'd is the promise,
By th' Ancient of Days,
To bring forth the cap-stone,
With shouting and praise.

There's no more oceasion for level or plumb-line,
For trowel or gavel, for compass or square;
Our works are completed, the ark safely seated,
And we shall be greeted as workmen most rare.

Now those that are worthy,
Our toils who have shar'd,
And prov'd themselves faithful,
Shall meet their reward.
Their virtue and knowledge,
Industry and skill,
Have our approbation,
Have gain'd our good will.

We accept and receive them most excellent masters,
Invested with honours, and power to preside;
Among worthy craftsmen, wherever assembled,
The knowledge of masons to spread far and wide.

Almighty Jehovah,
Descend now, and fill
This lodge with thy glory,
Our hearts with good will!
Preside at our meetings,
Assist us to find
True pleasure in teaching
Good will to mankind.

Thy wisdom inspired the great institution,
Thy strength shall support it, till nature expire;
And when the creation shall fall into ruin,
Its beauty shall rise, through the midst of the fire!

Master's Song

[Tune-"Greenwich Pensioner."]

I sing the mason's glory,
Whose prying mind doth burn,
Unto complete perfection
Our mysteries to learn;
Not those who visit lodges
To eat and drink their fill,
Not those who at our meetings
Hear lectures 'gainst their will:

But only those whose pleasure,
At every lodge, can be
T' improve themselves by lectures,
In glorious masonry.
Hail! glorious masonry!

The faithful, worthy brother,
Whose heart can feel for grief,
Whose bosom with compassion
Steps forth to its relief,
Whose soul is ever ready,
Around him to diffuse
The principles of masons,
And guard them from abuse;

These are thy sons, whose pleasure,
At every lodge, will be,
T' improve themselves by lectures
In glorious masonry.
Hail! glorious masonry!

Kine Solomon, our patron,
Transmitted this command —
"The faithful and praise-worthy
True light must understand;
And my descendants, also,
Who're seated in the East,
Have not fulfill'd their duty,
Till light has reach'd the West:

Therefore, our highest pleasure,
At every lodge, should be,
T' improve ourselves by lectures
In glorious masonry.
Hail! glorious masonry!

The duty and the station,
Of master in the chair,
Obliges him to summon
Each brother to prepare;
That all may be enabled,
By slow, though sure degrees,
To answer in rotation,
With honour and with ease.

Such are thy sons, whose pleasure,
At every lodge, will be,
T' improve themselves by lectures
In glorious masonry.
Hail! glorious masonry!

Senior Warden's Song

[Tune—"When the hollow drum doth beat to bed."]

When the Senior Warden, standing in the West,
Calls us from our labours to partake of rest,
We unite, while he recites
The duties of a mason.
On the level meet,
On the square we part,
Repeats each worthy brother.
This rule in view,
We thus renew
Our friendship for each other;

When the Senior, &c.

When our work is over, implements secure,
Each returning homeward, with intentions pure,
Our wives we kiss, give sweethearts bliss,
Which makes them both love masons;
And thus we may
Enjoy each day,
At home, and at our meetings:
Our sweethearts eas'd,
Our wives well pleas'd,
Saluted with such greetings.

When the Senior, &c.

Junior Warden's Song

[Tune — "Faint and wearily, &c."]

When the Junior Warden calls us from our labours,
When the sun is at meridian height,
Let us merrily unite most cheerily,
With social harmony new joys invite.
One and all, at his call,
To the feast repairing,
All around joys resound,
Each the pleasure sharing.

Mirth and jollity, without frivolity,
Pervade our meetings at the festive board;
Justice, temperance and prudence govern us,
There's nought but harmony amongst us heard.
One and all, at the call,
To the feast repairing,
All around joys resound,
Each to the pleasure sharing.

Thus we ever may enjoy the pleasant moments
Giv'n unto us from the master's chair,
Till the sun an hour has past meridian,
And then each brother to his work repair.
One and all hear the call,
From the feast repairing,
All around gavels sound,
Each the labour sharing.

Senior Warden's Toast.

Freemasons all,
Attend the call;
'Tis by command
You all are warn'd,
To fill up a bumper and keep it at hand,
To drink to "The mother of masons."
Let each give the word to his brother,
To prove that we love one another;
Let's fill to the dame
From whom we all came;
And call her "Of masons the mother."


The stewards have laid foundations,
To prove that we love our relations,
By toasting the dame
From whom we all came ;
We'll call her "The mother of masons."

In days of yore
Freemasons bore
A flask of wine,
Of mirth the sign,
And often they fill'd with the liquor divine,
To drink to "The mother of masons."
'Twas on these joyful occasions,
All charged stood firm to their stations,
And toasted the dame
From whom we all came,
Repeating, "The mother of masons."

Be all prepar'd,
Each motion squar'd,
And at the nod,
With one accord,
In strictest rotation we'll pass round the word,
Drink, drink, to "The mother of masons."
Have a care, right and left, and make ready,
Be all in your exercise steady,
And fill to the dame
From whom we all came,
"The mother of masons," the lady.

Past Master's Song

[Tune—Rule Britannia.]

When earth's foundation first was laid,
By the Almighty Artist's hand,
'Twas then our perfect, our perfect laws were made,
Establish'd by his strict command.

Hail, mysterious — hail, glorious Masonry!
That makes us ever great and free.

In vain mankind for shelter sought,
In vain from place to place did roam,
Until from heaven, from heaven he was taught
To plan, to build, to fix his home.

Illustrious hence we date our Art,
And now in beauteous piles appear
Which shall to endless, to endless time impart,
How worthy and how great we are.

Nor we less fam'd for every tie,
By which the human thought is bound;
Love, truth, and friendship, and friendship socially,
Join all our hearts and hands around.

Our actions still by virtue blest,
And to our precepts ever true,
The world admiring, admiring shall request
To learn, and our bright paths pursue.

This poem also appears in Rob Morris' book.


Let There Be Light

"Let there be light!" the Almighty spoke;
Refulgent streams from chaos broke,
To illume the rising earth!
Well pleas'd the Great Jehovah stood ;
The Power Supreme pronounc'd it good,
And gave the planets birth !
In choral numbers Masons join,
To bless and praise this light divine.

Parent of light! accept our praise!
Who shedd'st on us thy brightest rays,
The light that fills the mind:
By choice selected, lo! we stand,
By friendship join'd, a social band!
That love, that aid mankind!
In choral numbers Masons join,
To bless and praise this light divine.

The widow's tear, the orphan's cry,
All wants our ready hands supply,
As far as power is given;
The naked clothe, the pris'ner free;
These are thy works, sweet charity!
Reveal'd to us from heaven.
In choral numbers Masons join,
To bless and praise this light divine.

Found in Masonic Harp, reprinted by the Masonic Book Club, 1998.

Installation Ode

Behold! In the East, our new Master appears,
Come, brothers, we'll greet him with hearts all sincere;
We'll serve him with freedom, with fervor and zeal,
And aid him his duties and trust to fulfil.

In the West see the Warden, with Level in hand,
The Master to aid, and obey his command.
We'll aid him with freedom, with fervor and zeal,
And aid him his duties and trust to fulfil.

In the South, see the Warden, by Plumb stand upright,
Who watches the sun, and takes note of his flight,
We'll aid him with freedom, with fervor and zeal,
And aid him his duties and trust to fulfil.

From Rob Morris' book. The reference is to a debate recorded in the apocryphal book I Esdras, and which forms the basis for the Knight of the Red Cross degree in the York Rite.

The Red Cross Debate

Which is the greatest, the strength of wine, or of the king, or of woman?

How Strong Is Wine! it causeth all to err,
Who to calm temperance excess prefer;
Under its influence the mind's undone,
The poor man and the rich become as one;
Their thoughts are turned to jollity and mirth,
Sorrow and debt despise, and pride of birth;
The miserable man forgets his woes,
Neglects his kindred, mingles with his foes;
The virtuous heart a vicious course defends,
And draws its sword against its truest friends;
How strong is Wine, that forceth to these things!
Is it not greater than the power of Kings?

The Great Creator, when He formed our race,
To all His creatures each assigned a place,
And man ordained the master of the whole,
To rule and govern them without control.
But man himself by man must be restrained,
And Kings and Princes this great power attained;
Now those who rule all sublunary things
No earthly power controls, and such are Kings!

The strength of Wine is not to be denied,
It lightens poverty and humbles pride;
Neither is that of Kings, whate'er its source,
Which binds so many men by will and force;
But yet the frown of Woman far excels
The force of Wine and Kings; with magic spells
She captivates her votary by her charms,
And he's content to die within her arms.

Though Wine by strength should rule, by wisdom Kings,
Though Woman's beauty partial durance brings,
Yet all their power shall fail and fade like youth,
And wisdom, strength and beauty dwell with Truth.
For neither Beauty, mighty Kings, nor Wine,
Hath power and majesty, fair Truth, like thine.

Thy judgments just, thy precepts ever pure,
In all vicissitudes shall still endure;
Thy fruits are not the pleasures of an hour,
And ages yet unborn shall own thy power;
For neither Beauty, mighty Kings, nor Wine,
Hath power and majesty, fair Truth, like thine.

All else is evanescent, false and frail,
All else deceives, but thou shalt never fail ;
At thy approach hypocrisy shall flee,
For wisdom, strength and beauty dwell with thee;
Thou still shall blossom in immortal youth, —
Forever blessed be the God of Truth!
For neither Beauty, mighty Kings, nor Wine,
Hath power and majesty, fair Truth, like thine!

Thomas Smith Webb (1771-1819)

T.S.Webb is so well known in Masonic circles that full biographies of him abound on the Web, so only a brief outline will suffice here. Brother Webb was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 30, 1771. He received his education in Boston public schools where he began the study of music, and became proficient in Latin and French as well as English. These fields were especially important to him as a future Masonic poet. When he ventured out to make his fortune as a bookbinder, he moved first to Keene, New Hampshire, and was raised a Mason there in Rising Sun Lodge, December 17th, 1790 at the age of only 19, by virtue of being a lewis (son of a Mason).

Shortly thereafter, he moved to Albany, New York, where he compiled and edited the English Masonic ritual of William Preston, and published his revision of it as Freemason’s Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry in 1797 when he was 26 years of age. It was in this first Monitor that he published several songs of his own composition, to be used during meetings. The first seven poems on this page are the songs from that book, meant to be sung rather than simply read.

In Albany, T.S. had been a bookseller and printer, but he next moved in 1799 to Province, Rhode Island, where he opened his own factory producing wallpaper. Although Province was to be his home base for several years, he traveled widely through the United States, as they existed then, on manufaturing business, as a Masonic lecturer, and even as a musician. He was the first president of the Psallonian Society, an organization for the improvement of its members in sacred melody. In 1815 he moved a final time back to his home town, where he was one of the founders of the Boston Handel and Haydn Philharmonic Society, and conducted the Society’s first public concert in King’s Chapel on Christmas Day, 1815, with more than 100 participants. He also served as one of the soloists and even attained some fame as a composer.

Thomas Smith Webb died suddenly on July 6, 1819 while on a trip in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thomas Smith Webb is known both for his fashioning of the Monitor, which is the basis for nearly all in use in American jurisdictions today, and also for being the founder of the York Rite in America. On this page, we celebrate one of his other attainments, as an early Masonic poet.