“VACANT” (or Empty) Chair Ceremony
The 2016 Participants at the ANZAC “VACANT CHAIR” Ceremony
Others present were: VW Bro Tony Crafts GM of the Canterbury District #26, Bugler Mrs Kate Guthrie who played “The Last Post” and the “Reveille”, Piper WBro Jim Gilmour of Avon/Shirley Lodge #185 who played the Lament, Mr Maurice Baker President of the Ashburton RSA, P Prov GM Alex Thomson. DC VW Bro Ray E Gudex, Flag Bearers Bro Larry Duro & Bro Leo Mario, Chair Bearers WBro Don McL Smith and WBro Ron T Donaldson. Organist (not in photo) was WBro William “Bill” Grubb. All 4 Ashburton Lodges took a small part in the ceremony.
The “Vacant” or (Empty) Chair Ceremony dates back to 1875, a decade after the close of the American Civil War when it was used in Masonic Lodges to pay tribute to those who did not return from the war. Since then it has been used by many Lodges at Remembrance Day to pay homage to those Brother Masons who fell during WWI, WWII, and the other wars.
This NZ ceremony is based on Australian States Masonic Lodges adaption from that in the USA, and ideally suited to our ANZAC month of remembrance. This is a moving ceremony which simply offers tribute to the Lodge members and others in the community who go to war for their country and do not return, leaving a vacant chair. It is our wish to have the wider community sharing this with us, as it is very applicable to us all in our community.
VACANT Chair Ceremony Group April 2015
In April ’15 the Lodge conducted The Vacant Chair Ceremony. This NZ ceremony is based on the Australian Masonic Lodge’s adaption from that in the USA, and ideally suited to our ANZAC month of remembrance. W Bro, George Currie attended a Lodge near Vancouver in 2011 and witnessed this special ceremony, which was obtained from Australia. Canadian and American Lodges do this ceremony in November which is their Remembrance month. Here in Australasia April is our ANZAC month of Remembrance. This is a moving ceremony which simply involves the Lodge member who goes to war for his country and does not return leaving a vacant chair. The ceremony includes a bugler for the Last Post and Reveille as well as a Piper for the Lament. The names of those who served at war and faced the Supreme Sacrifice are read out.
FREEMASONRY IN PRACTICE – HELP TO MAN
DID YOU KNOW?
For the Fallen
Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon
With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England’s foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;
As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
Inspiration for the Fallen
Laurence Binyon composed his best known poem while sitting on the cliff-top looking out to sea from the dramatic scenery of the north Cornish coastline. A plaque marks the location at Pentire Point, north of Polzeath. However, there is also a small plaque on the East Cliff north of Portreath, further south on the same north Cornwall coast, which also claims to be the place where the poem was written.
The poem was written in mid September 1914, a few weeks after the outbreak of the First World War. During these weeks the British Expeditionary Force had suffered casualties following its first encounter with the Imperial German Army at the Battle of Mons on 23rd August, its rearguard action during the retreat from Mons in late August and the Battle of Le Cateau on 26th August, and its participation with the French Army in holding up the Imperial German Army at the First Battle of the Marne between 5th and 9th September 1914.
Laurence said in 1939 that the four lines of the fourth stanza came to him first. These words of the fourth stanza have become especially familiar and famous, having been adopted by the Royal British Legion as an Exhortation for ceremonies of Remembrance to commemorate fallen Servicemen and women.
Laurence Binyon was too old to enlist in the military forces but he went to work for the Red Cross as a medical orderly in 1916. He lost several close friends and his brother-in-law in the war.
Vacant Chair Ceremony 2014