Table of Contents

Morris revised some poems over the years. The poems on this page are those which differ from the versions in his 1884 book, The Poetry of Freemasonry (TPOF).

Rob Morris
  1. The Level And The Square
  2. The Mason's Pledge
  3. The Five Points Of Fellowship
  4. The Mason's Vows by R. Doherty
  5. Our Vows by Benjamin L. Hadley
  6. The Utterances Of The Sword
  7. The Poetry Of Masonic Literature Prose

    Additional links

Rob Morris' The Poetry Of Freemasonry has been divided into the following parts:

In TPOF, two versions of this poem are given, the earliest (1854) and the latest (1885), together with the note that it had been revised many times. This popular version is significantly different from either of the two in the book!

The Level And The Square

We meet upon the Level
and we part upon the Square.
What words of precious meaning,
those words Masonic are!
Come, let us contemplate them!
They are worthy of a thought;
In the very walls of Masonry
the sentiment is wrought.

We meet upon the Level,
though from every station come,
The rich man from his palace
and the poor man from his home;
For the rich must leave his wealth and state
outside the Mason's door,
And the poor man finds his best respect
upon the Checkered Floor.

We act upon the Plumb
'tis the orders of our Guide.
We walk upright in virtue's way
and lean to neither side;
The All-Seeing Eye that reads our hearts
doth bear us witness true
That we still try to honor God
and give each man his due.

We part upon the Square,
for the world must have its due;
We mingle with the multitude,
a faithful band and true.
But the influence of our gatherings
in memory is green,
And we long upon the Level
to renew the happy scene.

There's a world where all are equal
we are hurrying toward it fast,
We shall meet upon the Level
when the gates of Death are past;
We shall stand before the Orient,
and our Master will be there
To try the blocks we offer
with His own unerring Square.

We shall meet upon the Level there,
but never thence depart.
There's a Mansion 'tis all ready
for each trusting, faithful heart.
There's a Mansion, and a welcome,
and a multitude is there
Who have met upon the Level
and been tried upon the Square.

Let us meet upon the Level, then
while laboring patient here;
Let us meet and let us labor,
though the labor be severe;
Already in the Western sky
the signs bid us prepare
To gather up our Working Tools
and part upon the Square.

Hands round, ye faithful Brotherhood,
the bright fraternal Chain.
We part upon the Square below to
meet in Heaven again!
What words of precious meaning,
those words Masonic are
"We meet upon the Level
and we part upon the Square."

Originally written August, 1854, but revised many times.

This poem is a compressed version of The Five Points Of Fellowship below. It's somewhat comparable to the British version of that poem in his book, TPOF.

The Mason's Pledge

Brother, hearken, while I tell you
What we Masons pledged to do
When, prepared at yonder altar,
We assumed the Mason's vow!
Foot and knee, breast, hand and cheek
Hearken while I make them speak!

Foot to foot, on mercy's errand,
When we hear a brother's cry,
Hungry, thirsty, barefoot, naked,
With God's mercy let us fly.
This of all our thoughts the chief,
How to give him quick relief.

Knee to knee, in earnest praying,
None but God to hear or heed,
All our woes and sins confessing,
Let us for each other plead;
By the spirit of our call,
Let us pray for brothers all.

Breast to breast, in sacred casket,
At life's center let us seal
Every truth to us entrusted,
Nor one holy thing reveal!
What a Mason vows to shield,
Let him die, but never yield.

Hand to back, a brother's falling,
Look, his burdens are too great.
Stretch the generous hand and hold him
Up before it is too late.
The right arm's a friendly prop,
Made to hold a brother up.

Cheek to cheek, in timely whisper
When the temper strives to win.
Urge the brother's bounden duty,
Show him the approaching sin.
Point to him the deadly snare,
Save him with a brother's care.

Brother, let us often ponder
What we Masons pledged to do
When, prepared at mythic altar,
We assumed the Mason's vow;
Foot and knee, breast, hand and cheek,
Let these oft our duties speak.

This poem is a much-expanded version of The Mason's Pledge above. In his book, the first five lines of this version appear in a final stanza on the poem above, and this poem starts in the middle of a sentence with the 7th line of the version here. I think this is the better arrangement.

The Five Points Of Fellowship

Brother, let us often ponder
What we Masons pledged to do
When, prepared at mythic altar,
We assumed the Mason's vow!
Foot and knee, breast, hand and cheek
Let these oft our duties speak
Joyful task it is, dear brothers
Thus to take upon the lip
With full heart, and fitting gesture,
All our points of fellowship.

Foot and knee, breast, hand, and cheek
Each a measured part shall speak:
Speak of answering mercy's call;
Speak of prayer for Masons all;
Speak of keeping secrets duly;
Speak of stretching strong hand truly;
Speak of whispering the unruly.

Foot to foot: 'tis mercy's mandate,
When is heard the plaintive sigh,
Hungry, thirsty, homeless, naked,
On the wings of aid to fly;
Hasten, mitigate the grief
Hasten, bear him quick relief!
Quick with bread to feed the hungry;
Quick with raiment for the naked;
Quick with shelter for the homeless;
Quick with heart's deep sympathy.

Knee to knee: in silence praying,
Lord, give listening ear this day!
Every earthly stain confessing,
For all tempted Masons pray!
Perish envy, perish hate,
For all Masons supplicate.
Bless them, Lord upon the ocean;
Bless them perishing in the desert;
Bless them falling 'neath temptation
Bless them when about to die!

Breast to breast: in holy casket
At life's center strongly hele,
Every sacred thing intrusted,
Sealed by faith's unbroken seal;
What you promised God to shield
Suffer, die, but never yield.
Never yield whate'er the trial;
Never yield whate'er the number;
Never yield through foully threatened,
Even at the stroke of death.

Hand to back: A brother falling,
His misfortune is too great,
Stretch the generous hand, sustain him,
Quick, before it is too late.
Like a strong, unfaltering prop,
Hold the faltering brother up.
Hold him up; stand like a column;
Hold him up; there's good stuff in him;
Hold him with his head toward Heaven;
Hold him with the lion's grip.

Cheek to cheek: O, when the tempter
Comes, a brother's soul to win,
With a timely whisper warn him
Of the dark and deadly sin.
Extricate him from the snare,
Save him with fraternal care.
Save him Heavenly powers invoke you
Save him man is worth the saving
Save him breathe your spirit in him
As you'd have your God save you.

This completes the obligation;
Brother, lest you let it slip,
Fasten on tenacious memory
All our points of Fellowship;
Foot and knee, breast, hand, and cheek
Foot and knee, breast, hand, and cheek.

The two poems above went through some serious revising through the years at the hand of Brother Morris himself, but that hasn't been to only hand to rewrite it. This version, while still recognizably related, is also noticeably different, particularly in the addition of a song-like chorus, which is the only recognizable link to the one that follows it, until one looks at them closely.

The Mason's Vows

Abridged by R. Doherty, PGS, Grand Lodge of Canada

Hearken Brothers, while I tell you,
What we Masons pledge to do,
When prepared at yonder Altar,
We assume the Mason's Vows,
Foot and knee, breast hand and cheek,
Listen while we make them speak:

Foot to foot on mercy's errand,
When we hear a Brother's cry,
Hungry, thirsty, barefoot, naked,
In God's mercy let us fly,
This, of all our thoughts the chief,
How to give him quick relief.

On yonder book that oath I took,
And break it will I never,
But swear by this, and this, and this,
For ever and for ever.

Knee to knee while humbly praying,
None but God to hear and heed,
All our woes and sin confessing,
Let us for each other plead,
By the spirit of our call,
Let us pray for Brothers all:

Repeat Chorus:

Breast to breast in sacred casket,
At life's center let us seal,
All the truths to us entrusted,
Nor one holy thing reveal,
What a Mason vows to shield,
Let him die, but never yield.

Repeat Chorus:

Hand to back, a Brother's falling,
Look, his burdens are too great,
Stretch the generous hand and hold him
Up before it is too late,
This right arm's a friendly prop,
Just made to hold a Brother up:

Repeat Chorus:

Cheek to cheek in silent whisper,
When the Tempter tries to win,
Urge a Brother's bounden duty,
Show to him the approaching sin,
Point out to him the deadly snare,
Save him by a Brother's care:

Repeat Chorus:

Oft times, Brothers, let us ponder,
What we Masons pledge to do,
When prepared at yonder Altar,
We assume the Mason's vow's,
Foot and knee, breast hand and cheek,
Of times warning, let them speak.

Final Chorus:
On yonder book those oaths I took,
And break them will I never,
But stand by this, and this, and this,
Forever and forever.

The following poem has been used for years, but its origin has been a mystery. Variously called the "Canadian Charge" or "On Yonder Book". MSA found it in a book titled A Treasury of Masonic Thought, published in 1957, edited by Carl Glick. The author is listed as Attributed to Rob Morris.

Intro to poem from The Short Talk Bulletin
of the Masonic Service Association
Vol.82, No.11, November, 2004.

Other titles for this poem, which dates to the 1890s, have been "A Mason's Ties And Duties", "Candle Light Charge", and "The Mason's Vows". An interesting article has been written about this poem, by Ian Donald of Kentucky; and several other sites include a preamble for it when it is used in a degree ceremony. The authorship of this version seems established as Benjamin L. Hadley, a Past Grand Officer of Maine, but based on the above poems by Rob Morris. However an error that has caught Brother Donald and others, even the official Grand Lodge of Maine website, is to attribute it to the Grand Master of 1942-1943. He was the second Benjamin L. Hadley to hold Grand office in that jurisdiction! Another Benjamin L. Hadley was Grand Junior Warden in 1896! And this earlier B.L.Hadley had a literary bent, as he published a history of Bar Harbor (ME) Lodge in 1890.

Our Vows

In Mason's Lodge, with darkened eyes
With cable tow about me,
I swore to hele all mysteries,
That Masons keep, and Masons prize,
All brothers' secrets whispered low,
All words they speak, all things they do,
In mystic manner taught me.

On yonder Book, that oath I took,
And will I break it? Never!
But stand by this, and this, and this,
Forever and forever.

I swore to answer and obey
All summons sent me duly,
By brothers' hand or Lodge array;
I swore that I would never stray
From Ancient laws and rules that bound
Freemasons, in the days renowned,
But would observe them truly.

Repeat Chorus: [2]

I swore in charity to care
For all with sorrow smitten,
A brother on the darkened square,
The Widow, full of grief and care,
The orphan doomed, alas, to stray,
Upon a rough and rugged way,
While tears gush forth unbidden.

Repeat Chorus: [3]

I swore to deal in honesty
With each true heart around me,
That Honor, bright, should ever be
Unbroken bonds twixt him and me,
Nor wrong nor guile, nor cruel fraud,
Should ever break the sacred cord,
By which my vows have bound me.

Repeat Chorus: [4]

I swore the Portals close to guard
Of the Masonic Temple;
To rid the quarries of their dross,
To build each mystic wall across
With body perfect, upright heart,
And mind mature in moral art,
In Precept and example.

Repeat Chorus: [5]

I swore the Chastity to shield
Of women true and tender,
A brother's wife, A brother's child
His Mother, Sister, undefiled
Those, pure of heart, whose love
Makes Masons' homes like heaven above:
I am their sworn defender

Repeat Chorus: [6]

My Brother[s]:
These are your Vows, be they your cares.
And may such light be given
In answer to your earnest prayer,
That you may ever do and dare
All that God's gracious Laws enjoin;
So that, when shades of night decline,
You may be found in Heaven.

Final Chorus:
On yonder Book, these oaths we took,
And will we break them? Never:
But stand by this, and this, and this,
Forever and forever.

When used in a Master Mason's degree ceremony, the chorus words "by this, and this, and this" are accompanied by gestures, so:
First chorus Step, Due Garde, and Sign of an E.A.
2nd Step, Due Garde, and Sign of a F.C.
3rd Step, Due Garde, and Sign of a M.M.
4th Due Gardes of all three degrees.
5th Indicate Greater Lights, Lesser Lights, and Letter G.
6th Grand Hailing Sign of Distress.
Final Candidates or entire assembly join in doing all three gestures of all three degrees, one degree for each 'this'.

This is the poem text of the Knights Templar Sword Drill in TPOF, without the frequent inturruptions for footnotes and drill commands.

The Utterances Of The Sword:

A Dramatic Poem in 19 Parts


Come out, come out, thou glittering brand!
Obey a Christian Knight's command!
Inspire a Templar's hand!
Celestial signs, thou sword, reveal
In cut and flash of sacred steel,
As in the ancient Band!
As when, before the Saviour's shrine,
Each Templar breathed his countersign!


Oh, Prince Emmanuel, Son of God,
From this far-off and humble sod,
Once by thy gentle footsteps trod,
Thee, Jesus, we salute!
Omniscient King, behold our Band
As with this emblematic brand,
Our work we execute!
Each movement of the Knightly Sword
Shall tell of Thee, thou Templar's Lord!


Embattled hosts are pressing
Along the serried line,
Their venomed darts distressing
The Guardians of the Shrine.
Support, brave Knights, with dauntless mind!
What though the foemen's banner flaunt!
Little we reck, upon the wind,
Blasphemous word and taunt!


To the ardent Pilgrims journeying from afar,
Warriors enlisted in Jesus' Holy War,
'Neath the Cross the sacred Word,
Speaks the one effulgent Lord.
Purged from slavery and sin,
In Hoc Signo, we come in;
Open, Warder, at the gate,
Wide to admit this conquering Band!
Thou, the King of earthly state,
Thou, the King of Heavenly Land!


But who is this, in humble weeds, with Cross and Cord and Scrip,
This man impetuous, resolved to share our fellowship?
With "pure ablutions" thoroughly washed, with "patience sorely tried,"
Waiting to have instructions from the one unerring Guide!
Welcome the stranger, give him bread, his water cruse supply;
Cheer him with comfortable words; his tears of weakness dry;
'Tis written in Heaven's Chancery that they who help the poor
Shall find their deeds remembered when they knock at Heaven's door.
Then cover ye their nakedness, who, poor and friendless, come!
Fling wide your Asylums, Noble Knights, and give the homeless home!
Strike manfully, Brave Heroes, when the defenseless call,
And with your comrades conquering stand, or with your comrades fall.


Speed the spoil, the booty hasten,
Templars charge along the lines!
See the opposing forces shaken,
Victory to us inclines!
Innocent maidens, helpless orphans,
Widows destitute, forlorn,
Will you leave them all to scorn?
By the power of Christ's religion,
Templars charge, nor be forsworn.


Here let us muse awhile on far-off scenes,
Where Templars won their earliest renown;
This very dust of Palestine was once
Bone, sinew, heart of Christian chivalry,
That fell to win Christ's Holy Sepulcher;
O'erborne by arrogant infidels they fought,
All through that summer day, on Hattin's plain,
But when the night came down they slept in death;
Never God's glittering stars looked on such men!
At Acre's siege how strove their matchless Band!
How flew their Beauseant on the morning breeze,
When wall and tower surmounted, in her streets
They sung their hymn, Non Nobis Domine,
And worshiped God, to whom the victory is!
Banished from Palestine, the centuries flew,
And lo, at Rhodes and Malta, in the might
Of the Invincible they held their lines,
And in their island forts kept back the foe,
While nations at their prowess stood amazed!
Honor, infinite honor, to each Knight,
Upon whose lance head gleamed such grand heroic light!


Eloi 'twas said on Cavalry,
Eloi, lama sabachthani,
Why hast thou, Lord, forsaken me?
Oh, when these Templar Knights shall die,
Not this their last despairing cry,
But rather, midst death's thickening gloom,
Exultant at the very tomb,
"Hail, Christ, Emmanuel, we come!


By the deep booming of the Templar's knell,
By the slow march that endeth with the grave,
By funeral badge, and sign, and sorrowful brow,
We mark a Templar fallen; swords reversed,
And trumpets sounding, let the dead go on!
He that hath fallen is Conqueror, while we,
The battle heat must challenge, and the strife,
Until the Master calls to everlasting life.


When Jesus doth marshal
His ranks in accord,
He blesses each sword
With justice impartial,
With Valor undaunted,
With Mercy adored;
What Templar can falter
When Christ is his Lord?


Lift up your golden heads, ye gates,
Lift up, ye everlasting doors,
And let the King of Glory pass,
King of the upper world and ours!
How strong and mighty He in war!
The victory He will surely win,
Lift up your golden heads, ye gates,
And let the King of Glory in!


Our Master, journeying o'er the hill,
Rested in noonday heat,
So we, the servants of His will,
Rest at our Master's feet.
How gracious bends His loving gaze
Upon the faithful Band,
Whose strength and joy and hopes are His,
The expectancy of future bliss,
When we exchange the toils of this,
For rest in heavenly land.


Kneel, in worship at the throne
Where Emmanuel rules alone;
And the service of the /cirque,
By celestial chorus sung,
"Glory in the highest be,
Peace, good will eternally!"


Rejected, He who came to save,
Despised, the Lord of all,
Embittered in His very grave
With wormwood and with gall:
A man of sorrows, and acquaint
With grief's most agonizing plaint.


Would we, Sir Knights, be freed from care,
The storm cloud vanishes in prayer:
One true petition, fervent, deep,
Is, to the soul, refreshing sleep;
Prayer animates the arm and heart;
Prayer points anew the Templar's dart;
And binds his powers in sweet accord
To do the bidding of the Lord.


Perish every sword in rust,
Crumble, emblems, into dust,
Be our very flag accursed,
And our names forgot,
Ere we draw in evil strife,
Ere we use in evil life,
Ere we haunt where sin is rife,
And the Lord is not!
Templars, thorny was the road
That the Man Of Sorrows trod,
But, returning back to God,
Peace He left, and love:
Follow peace! the way is short,
Cherish love! this life is naught,
And the last great battle fought,
Find The Lord above!


Groaning in Gethsemane,
Crowned from Jordan's thorny tree,
Scourged, alas! with Roman lash,
Gory streams from every gash,
Mocked with purple robe and reed,
Nailed, and dying, Master, heed,
And hear the Templars' Prayer!

Now on high-exalted throne,
See Thy Templars marching on!
May we feel Thy presence near,
May we never, never fear!
Though we linger, though we bleed,
Though we falter, Master, heed,
And hear the Templars' Prayer.

While Thy Templars faithful live,
Shield, and arms, and courage give!
When Thy toil-spent Templars die,
Crowned with glorious victory,
In Thy presence, by Thy side,
Us eternal rest provide!
Then, thou omnipresent Lord,
By the utterances of the sword
Grant the Templars' Prayer!


No more the trenchant blade to wield,
No more the helmet and the shield,
The Templar's strife is o'er;
The sepulcher where Christ hath lain,
That holiest place is ours again,
To be bereft no more.
In peace we lay our weapons by,
And chant the hymns of victory.


The earth may reel from trembling pole to pole,
The fiery billows in their fury roll,
But, fixed on Christ, the Templar Host will stand,
And brave the terrors of the burning land:
Hail and Salute!

Winter may bind the earth in icy chain,
Spring may unloose the laughing streams again;
Summer may heat, and autumn heap the land,
While fixed on Christ the Templar Host will stand:
Hail and Salute!

The enemies of law may rouse their ire,
And threaten us again with rack and fire,
We laugh to scorn the persecuting hand,
And, fixed on Christ, the Templar Host will stand.
Hail and Salute!

God speed you, Brothers of Golgotha's Cross!
God keep you from all detriment and loss!
Ever, by gates Celestial be ye fanned,
And, fixed on Christ, your Templar Host shall stand:
Hail and Salute!

The following is excerpted from the introduction to Morris' book, TPOF.

The Poetry Of Masonic Literature

If Masonic literature may justly be divided, like other branches of human knowledge, into departments, then we may style one of those divisions Poetry. The biographical, historical and ritualistic divisions, added to that which is termed belles-lettres, in which fiction is introduced by way of parable, make up the ordinary understanding of Masonic literature, to which I would add Poems as the complement.

It is not too much to say that this branch of Masonic learning has been over-looked and neglected by Masonic writers. The Order has had among its votaries Walter Scott, Lamartine, Thomas Moore, William Cowper, James Hogg, Robert Burns, George D. Prentice, George P. Morris, Charles Mackay, James P. Percival, and many others of poetic fame, men whose effusions will survive while sweet sentiments, wedded to melodious diction, have any value; but the united efforts of all these poets applied to Masonic themes scarcely fill a dozen pages. Burns wrote one Masonic ode, and rested. It is his "Adieu, a heart-warm, fond adieu" a piece so exquisitely affecting, so filled with Masonic imagery that we cannot read it without sensations of regret that he wrote no more. Scott, Hogg, Moore, Mackay none of them, so far as I know, ever contributed so much as a line to the poetry of Masonic literature.

George P. Morris composed at least one ode, "Man dieth and wasteth away," which is worthy the man and the theme. Giles F. Yates contributed a paraphrase of the 133d Psalm, which has gone into large use in our lodges, "Behold, how pleasant and how good." Thomas Smith Webb left one upon record, "All hail to the morning," abounding with poetic fire and Masonic imagery. David Vinton gave us "Solemn strikes the funeral chime," which has found extra-ordinary favor as a funeral hymn. With this our stock of Masonic poetry is exhausted. Not but that there is much jingle, mixed with stanzas of merit scattered through the pages of our books and periodicals, but they are not such as will be selected by future writers to exemplify this Masonic age.

And why is this? Does not the subject of Freemasonry suggest to the poetic mind a flight skyward? If religion, and especially that derived from the contemplation of the Holy Scriptures, constitutes so favorable a theme for poets because of its extraordinary array of imagery, types, symbols, emblems and what not, does not Freemasonry abound even more in such things? In fact, Freemasonry is composed of allegory, types, imagery, etc.; it is in itself a true "chamber of imagery." The very nature and purpose of the Order is to teach one thing by means of another, to suggest an inward truth by an outward emblem. Yet the great writers whose names are given above seem never to have recognized this. Robert Burns found in the murmur of a brook and the warbling of a bird the voice of his mistress. Walter Scott saw through the outlines of a rusty lance-head or broken pair of spurs the imagery of a well foughten field. Thomas Moore drew from the twang of a ricketty lute wails of lamentation for the decadence of his green old Ireland. All this is in the nature of suggestion, the very essence of poetry. Yet these men could look coldly upon the most pregnant images of Freemasonry, the G, the Broken Column, the Mystic Pillars, and a score of others; they could listen to a rehearsal of the Masonic covenants with-out once considering the inexhaustible mine of poetic thought of which these were only the surface.

As compared with any other theme, I would give the preference to Symbolical Masonry as the richest in poetic thought, and I can only hope that the clay is not distant when a great poet will arise who will be to Freemasonry what Scott was to chivalry, Moore to patriotism, Burns to rustic love.


Robert "Rob" Morris (1818-1888)

There has been so much written about Brother Morris that we'll use this space mainly to list links to his book, on file here at the MPS. Suffice to say he was Grand Master of both Kentucky and Canada, founder of the Order of the Eastern Star, founded the first (modern-day) Lodge in the Holy Land, at Jerusalem, and was generally recognized during his lifetime as the official Poet Laureate of Freemasonry.

The Poetry of Freemasonry: Contents and Index pages 1-12,394-399
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Biography of Rob Morris pages i-xxiv
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Part 1: - Masonry Militant pages 13-70
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Part 2 - Symbolic Masonry pages 71-285
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Part 3 - Holy Land pages 286-321
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Part 4 - Adoptive Masonry (OES) pages 322-353
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Part 5 - Other Masonic Poets pages 354-393
The Poetry of Freemasonry: Entire Book (This is one huge HTML file, 2.8MB, OCR typos unedited, not hyperlinked, no pictures, containing all the above except the table of contents, pp.1-12.)
Rob Morris' The Poetry Of Freemasonry has been divided into the following parts: