It has been said that:
You can have an extremely good ceremony in the Temple with good ritual and follow it with a poor Festive Board – and everyone will go home feeling deflated. However, you can have a poor ceremony in the Temple and follow it with an extremely good Festive Board – and everyone will go home feeling elated.
This raises the question – Do we give enough time to work on and improve the Festive Board?
In this section of the website, we hope to share experiences, look at ways we might improve the proceedings and ultimately – try to raise our game.
So what makes a poor Festive Board?
Here’s a list identified at a Way Forward presentation a few years ago.
- Late start
- Late finish
- Loose control of proceedings
- Too rigid control of proceedings
- Long speeches
- Speeches that don’t stick to the point
- Weak jokes
- Bad joke tellers
- Unable to hear
- Too much noise Lack of atmosphere
I’m sure there are others, but the most important thing is that it is all in our control.
Lets start by looking at the main elements of the Festive Board:
1. The Wine Taking
2. The Official Toasts
3. The Speeches
Some Lodges will include only a minimum of wine takings, whilst others maintain a long list which continues throughout the meal. If we are to take into account the comfort and digestion of our members and guests, the continual interruption to conversation and the safety factors of standing up and down with an ongoing food service – isn’t it better to work with a smaller but more focussed list of wine takings?
Appendix 2 provides a list of potential wine takings for consideration. As a guideline, the minimum could be the first two, but do we need more than 5?
The Official Toasts
The Official Toasts are available on this website and can be printed for both Craft and Royal Arch.
But how many times do we hear the Master stumble over the Official Toasts?
It is important to encourage the Master to practice the toasts at the Lodge of Instruction.
Here are the familiar stumbling blocks:
1. Each toast is bounded by the asterisks; don’t stop until you have reached the next set of asterisks.
2. The honorific’s should be omitted when proposing these toasts.
3. The Third Toast is to the Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master.
The common mistake is to pronounce it Programme Master.
(When the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England is a member of the Royal Family, he is empowered to appoint a Pro Grand Master to act for him on those occasions when he cannot be present. Pro = for)
4. The response by the DPGM, APGM or Representative of the PGM,is always given at the end of the 5th Toast ending – “and the Provincial Grand Officers, Present and Past.”
When introducing this toast, the WM should precede it with a few words of welcome to the Representative – but NOT say “this toast is coupled with the name of …….”
5. Immediately after the toast, it is usual for the Master to gavel and invite a response from the Representative.
When the PGM, DPGM or APGM is on an Official visit, the Provincial DC will introduce them.
The Core Speeches
There are four core speeches as follows:
1. The speech to the Worshipful Master by the Immediate Past Master
2. The response by the Worshipful Master
3. The speech to the Guests
4. The response from the Guests.
In many Lodges we find that the content of every speech is basically the same and meanders around the subject of how good the ceremony was and who were the good performers.This subject matter however, should be left for the response from the Guests because it is only they who can tell us how good we’ve been.
In order to begin to understand how the four speeches can be layered to complement and not overlay each other it’s important that all the speech makers understand what the content of the other speeches are likely to be. So lets work backwards, if you have an idea of the content of the response by the guest, then you can make sure you don’t take away his thunder.
Have a look at Appendix 1 and then write your speech, whether you are the IPM, Master or the Brother making the speech to the guests.
APPENDIX 1 – Speech to the Guests
Here’s an example of a response from the Guests:
Worshipful Master, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Grand Officers, Brethren all,
It gives me great pleasure to have been asked to give the response on behalf of the Guests. I am in no doubt that the initiation ceremony we witnessed today could not have been performed any better. Worshipful Master, the professional manner in which you delivered the ritual and the way in which you were supported by your Officers was outstanding. The Senior Deacon did an exceptional job in delivering the Charge after Initiation and the Junior Deacon was equally good at perambulating the Initiate around the Lodge and presenting to him, the Working Tools.
All credit to the Preceptors of the Lodge of Instruction for the high standard of work demonstrated this afternoon and Brother Initiate, you will seldom see an Initiation Ceremony carried out so professionally and with such empathy.
The Festive Board has been equally magnificent, from the choice and quality of the food, to the efficient service by the staff and the convivial atmosphere during the meal. Worshipful Master this has been an exceptional afternoon and evening and on behalf of our Guests we thank you for inviting us.
Having now understood what the response from the guests is likely to be – can you write yours so that it can be complemented by the speech from the guests?
If you would like to try to construct this speech and send in your efforts, we will publish the best ones.
APPENDIX 2 – Wine Taking
Note: The wine takings are listed in preferred order. If you elect to take only 5 wine takings, they should still be taken in their numerical order.
DC or IPM- Bro Wardens – (let them stand) – How do you report your respective columns?
The WM would now like to take wine:
1. With his Wardens
2. With you all, and he requests that you remain seated while he stands.
3. With the representative of PGM (When appropriate)
5. With Grand Officers
6. With Provincial Grand Officers and holders of London Grand Ranks
7. With the Initiate (when appropriate)
8. All with initiate (when appropriate)
9. With the Installing Master (when appropriate)
10. With the Master Elect (when appropriate)
12. With Brother passed (when appropriate)
13. With Brother raised (when appropriate)
14. With the Master of our mother/daughter Lodge (when appropriate)
15. With Masters of other lodges
16. With the guests
17. With his personal guests
18. With Brethren who assisted in ceremony (when appropriate)
19. With the Founders (when appropriate)
20. With PM’s and Officers
21. With the Preceptor and members of the L of I
22. With the Organist.
23. With the Tyler