DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES
W.BRO. DR. O.E HAMILTON, A.A.
PAGDC; PGSTD. BR. (RA)
PRES. B OF BENEV., II DG PRIN. (RA)
The Office of the Director of Ceremonies is of some importance in any Lodge. In terms of its position in the hierarchy of Officers of the Lodge, it ranks in precedence immediately below the Secretary having been upgraded (1916) to signify the acceptance by Grand Lodge of the invaluable duties that the Director of Ceremonies performs both in the Ceremonial and Ritual areas of Masonry.
In private Lodges there is no Deputy Director of Ceremonies although, of course, there is in Grand Lodge and District Grand Lodge. The nearest to such a position in a private Lodge is Assistant Director of Ceremonies whose duties are totally different from those of Deputy Director of Ceremonies. The Deputy will deputise for the Director Ceremonies during his absence, whereas the Assistant Director of Ceremonies as the name implies will assist during his presence. It is often the case, however, that during the absence of the Director of Ceremonies, the Assistant Director of Ceremonies does take control …this however should not be considered as of right.
It is not possible to specify in detail the individual parts which make up the whole of the Director of Ceremonies’ work. Suffice it to say that the Book of Constitutions defines the duties of the Grand Director of Ceremonies as follows: “the Grand Director of Ceremonies shall have the arrangement and direction of all processions and ceremonies of the Grand Lodge and shall have charge of the regalia, clothing, insignia and jewels belonging to Grand Lodge”. It must be noted that in Private Lodges the Office of Director of Ceremonies is parallel to that of Grand Director of Ceremonies so that where applicable, the duties of Grand Director of Ceremonies will also be those of Director of Ceremonies.
By the very nature of the duties performed it becomes obvious that a Candidate for the Office of Director of Ceremonies ought to be a Past Master. This is an essential qualification as by the fact that he has gone through “The Chair” he should be of good speaking voice, a person of seniority, one who relates well with his Brethren, possessing tact and leadership.
The Director of Ceremonies will also be called upon to perform certain duties which are only really appropriate to a Past Master. For example:
- Advising the Worshipful Master
- Calling the Brethren to Order
- Instruction Senior Brethren to follow his example
Among the major reasons why the Director of ceremonies should be a Past Master is the assistance he can give and the tasks he may have to perform, during the Inner workings when obviously only Past Masters can be present.
As a Master is given his Gavel and the Deacons have their Wands, so the Director of Ceremonies also has his Wand. It is essential that he should be proficient in performing his duties whilst holding his wand, thus maintaining the decorum and expertise which one would expect form the holder of that office.
It is probably fair to say that the Director of Ceremonies has more “responsibilities” than he has actual duties, and moreover, he has many duties which cannot be specifically defined. You will recall that in the investiture of the Director of Ceremonies by the Worshipful Master, he is told that his duty is to see that “our ceremonies are conducted properly”.
The Director of Ceremonies should therefore start his duties and responsibilities when he arrives at the Lodge room prior to the opening of the Lodge. Firstly, he should arrive at the meeting in good time and satisfy himself that:
a) Collars and Aprons are laid out in order, so that Brethren can obtain their relevant Collars with the minimum of inconvenience.
b) The necessary Wands for the Deacons as well as himself are in proper position for entry into the Lodge.
c) The Warrant should be available for the Worshipful Master since, this must be displayed to the Brethren in accordance with the Book of Constitutions immediately the Lodge is opened (Rule 101).
d) Where there is a Candidate, a Book of Constitutions and the By-Laws should be placed on the worshipful Master’s pedestal for presentation to the Candidate.
e) The Working Tools should be placed on the left hand side whereas the Volume of the Scared Law is placed on the top of the Master’s pedestal with the Square and Compasses therein or thereon.
f) According to the Ritual in use, the Director of Ceremonies should ensure that the Ballot Box and Alms or Charity Bag are in their appropriate places.
g) As soon as Officers have taken their places, the LIGHTS above the three respective pedestals should be on and the appropriate furniture should be on each pedestal.
h) Lighting of the Lodge should be tested, and when Candles are in use an ample supply, together with matches, should be ensured.
i) The Tracing Boards should be put in proper order for easy turning and kneeling stools placed appropriately.
j) Where it is the customs of the Lodge, hymn cards should be placed on seats or distributed.
k) It occasionally happens that a Brother is inappropriately dressed and a tactful word from the Director of Ceremonies is usually appropriate in those circumstances, since this can otherwise become an embarrassing situation.
As mentioned before, Private Lodges do not have Deputy Directors of Ceremonies but they do normally have Assistant Directors of Ceremonies. This, as the name implies, means that the Brother so appointed will assist the Director of Ceremonies and so ease some of the burden with which he will be saddled.
It is also the duty of the Director of Ceremonies (in consultation with the Master) to appoint qualified Brethren to deputise for those Officers of the Lodge who may from time to time be absent.
The examination of a Visitor is the responsibility of the Master, although he may delegate such duties to the Senior Warden, Junior Warden or a Past Master. In practice, however, the Worshipful Master will often seek the assistance of the Director of Ceremonies in proving a Visitor.
The Director of Ceremonies conducts the procession of District Grand Officers into the Lodge as well as their recession therefrom after the Lodge is closed.
The Director of Ceremonies’ responsibilities as stated before, start before the Lodge is formally opened and continue after the Lodge is formally closed. As a consequence, at the Festive Board prayers and the “Taking of Wine” is announced by the Director of Ceremonies who should also see that protocol is adhered to in the seating arrangements.