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MEM Library

A Short Talk For Degree Of MEM

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Most of us have witnessed the Degree Of Most Excellent Master many times and have heard the recital of the words of Psalm 122 many times, but, as in all Degrees we are not always aware of the significance of some of the words spoken during the ceremonies.

In this Degree, at the beginning of the ceremonies, the Candidates are conducted around the room six times while the words of this Psalm are recited. How many of us have wondered why these words are appropriate for this Degree, and, in particular, for this part of the ceremony? Let us take a look at what Biblical scholars have to tell us about this Psalm.

If you look up the Book of Psalms you will find that sixteen of them, namely Psalms 120 to 134 are called SONGS OF DEGREES or SONGS OF ASCENTS where the words Degrees or Ascents mean ‘Steps forward or upward.

Students attending Schools of Divinity are taught that this particular group for a series of PILGRIM’S SONGS, which are said to have been sung in ancient times by the People who joined the pilgrimages from their homes to the City of Jerusalem to attend the Holy Festivals of the Temple. Three of these Festivals were almost obligatory the Festival occurring in the fall of the year, which marked their New Year a part of which was ‘Yom Kippur’ or ‘Day of Atonement. The Festival of the ‘Passover’ which occurs in the spring and the ‘Pentecost’, fifty days later commemorate the Two Tablets of Stone on which were written the Ten Commandments.

At the time of Solomon, the Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem was the only one of its kind in the Holy Land. The faithful set out in caravans, on foot or on donkeys or on camels, over miles of robber-infested, hilly desert country. Sometimes the caravans were attacked by brigands. They were often robbed and left for dead. They were buffeted by sandstorms. Some became sick or had accidents. They were thirsty and weary. Often times they lost their way over the trackless desert. But always they were filled with religious fervour, which,, doubtlessly increased as they came closer and closer to the end of their journey.

These fifteen Psalms or Pilgrims Songs were the ones they sang along the way. Number One Hundred and Twenty Two is the one traditionally said to be the one they sung as they approached the Gates of the Holy City and the Temple. It reads:

“I was glad when they said unto me
Let us go into the House of the Lord.
Our feet shall stand within thy gates
O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is builded as a city
that is compact together.
Whither the Tribes go up, the Tribes of the Lord
Unto the Testimony of Israel
To give thanks unto the name of the Lord
For there are set Thrones of judgement
The Thrones of the House of David
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem
They shall prosper that love thee
Peace be within thy walls
Prosperity within thy palaces.
For my brethren and my companions sake
I will now say, “peace be within thee.”
Because of the House of the Lord our God
I will seek thy good.

It is most likely that the many thousands who journeyed to Jerusalem for the Dedication of the Temple marched up the sides of Mount Moriah before they entered the Gates of the Courts of the Temple.’

When we know this, it seems most appropriate that it be a part of our particular ceremonies, because our Candidates are about to join the rest of the Companions as everyone in the room join in the march into the Inner Court to witness the ceremony of our Degree.   

ANON
   

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