PM and WM of Honour, Lodge Concord No. 134, Grand East of Netherlands

After World War II the Rotterdam Lodges were convinced that only by working together they could meaningfully contribute to the life in our City, and to give expression to this belief they decided to open each work year together, each Lodge chairing in its turn. Now, some 75 years later, they are still doing so, and it is expected that in this year 2024 the Presiding Master of Lodge Concord No. 134 will have the honour to chair this important meeting. The Lodge has always taken this responsibility seriously, and the last recorded dates we performed, were September 1993 (Ivo ­Schuilwerve), 2001 (Frank Darbyshire) and 2009 (Anne Brouwer).
Masonic Forum Magazine has asked me to share some remembrance of the last occasion, and I feel privileged to do so, even if with some trepidation, for it is some time past.

Let me first start with a little announcement: On Saturday September 7th 2024 at 19:30 the Rotterdam work year will be opened by Lodge Concord in the Arminius Church. Visiting Brethren are very welcome.

Fifteen years ago, in 2009, this was done in the choir of the main church, the medieval St. Laurens. That church is expensive, and all partaking Lodges contributed to the costs. The Church has 3 organs, the great Marcussen organ in the West, the transept organ in the South-West and a choir organ, in the East.
The ritual normally consists, after the opening, of a statement of the Constitution letters of the Lodges, a ritual section about the mystical Stone with reading of the Old Charges, followed by a discourse by the Orator, formation of the Brother Chain, delivery of the Lecture by a young Brother, and closure, the whole being illustrated by music.

It is not easy for Concord to follow this pattern, we sing before opening and after closure, we work without free speeches by an Orator, and we work in English. So, we created a ritual in which we kept what was compatible with Emulation, and capitalized on opportunities offered by both Church and Lodge.
The ritual was conducted, as usual, in the choir of the Church which easily accomodates 200 persons. That evening there were some 150 Brethren.
We had found the titular organist of the St. Laurens, Hayo Boerema, prepared to take care of the musical part. So, we were let in and out with Bach’s Preludium and Fugue in f BWV 534 on the great organ, heard before the Brother Chain Schmücke dich o liebe Seele BWV 654 on the transept organ, whilst the Opening and Closing Ode were accompanied on the choir organ in a registration which I had never heard before. As if you were standing in clear water.

In Concord Lodge we have Brother Marco van der Linden, one of the greatest ritualists of the Order. Marco had translated the first Degree Tracing Board in Dutch and delivered the explanation in a striking performance in some 20 minutes, all by heart. Each Brother had been handed a A5 reproduction of the Tracing Board as painted by Harris for the Emulation Lodge, so it was easy for them to follow the explanation. The reproduction had been photographed and multiplied 250 x by Brother Mehmet Saydam. To the best of my knowledge one copy is still remaining, that which had belonged to the late Brother Arnold Daane. Arnold was that evening a kind of super-Director of Ceremonies, which he did with his usual panache.
The organisation had been in the hands of 17 Brethren of Concord, only 5 were living in Rotterdam, the rest were from all over the Netherlands, and even abroad. Five hundred (500) written invitations had been distributed by snail mail, it was still in the old days. The Ceremony started in time and we were through in exactly 90 minutes. There were afterproceedings in the Building Oostmaaslaan.
Probably the whole was considered just decent. I heard no complaints, nor many spontaneous remarks how fantastic it was, with exception of the Tracing Board Explanation: that was highly praised. Probably we will do this year the main parts of the Ceremony in English, the time seems ripe, but that is music for the future. You are very welcome to come and see, in the Arminius, on September 7th.