Mastering Masonic Ritual by John E Burnapp Metropolitan Grand Inspector
Book Review by E Comp Tony Shepherd MetDepGDC
In my own personal experience, some of the most uplifting, memorable, and rewarding moments in my masonic journey have been the rare moments when a Brother or Companion has delivered a piece or passage of familiar ritual in a manner that makes you feel you are hearing not only the words, but the spirit and profound nature of their meaning, for the very first time.
There have for many years been a plethora of goods books available to help brethren and companions learn masonic ritual. John E Burnapp’s book, Mastering Masonic Ritual (published by Lewis Masonic) sets itself apart from the pack by not only providing a multitude of tips and suggestions for the actual memorising of ritual, but more importantly, a step-by-step guidance on the mastery of delivering reflective, engaging, and entertaining ritual.
With a foreword written by former Deputy Metropolitan Grand Superintendent E Comp Christopher Clark, the book succeeds in highlighting the need to strive to personalise the ceremonies for the candidate, to enable him to develop a deeper understanding of the – at times – archaic language, and to excite and inspire him to wish to know more.
The author reflects on how many of the great ritualists have drawn their inspiration and knowledge not just from other great ritualists, but from preachers, public speakers and actors who use words as their primary tool to communicate ideas and principles. Many of the techniques employed by these great communicators are covered in the book and, in dissecting and analysing these techniques, Burnapp helps the reader to learn their ‘tricks of the trade’.
Evidenced by the contents of this book, Burnapp clearly believes that we all deserve excellent, meaningful ritual. He is very persuasive in his assertion that this ‘excellence’ helps the new candidate develop their interest and understanding, helps the more experienced Mason to develop their skills and, above all, it increases our enjoyment.A great ritualist engages in a ‘conversation’ with his audience, not merely lectures to it. The author further provides many personal observations and experiences that have enhanced his own masonic journey. Many of these musings are insightful and inspiring, including the benefit of correct pacing, the value of teamwork within the ritual team and the need for the presenter to understand the meaning of the words and phrases he is delivering.
In conclusion, Mastering Masonic Ritual concerns itself with the notion of not merely learning ritual, but with really mastering it. Not just learning the words, but creating interest and excitement within the listener. Not just reciting the lines within our ritual books, but by bringing those lines to life, injecting them with a purpose and a vitality.
Mastering Masonic Ritual has clearly been designed not just to be read and then left to languish on a bookshelf. I am happy to report that I shall now keep my copy with my ritual books and shall dip into it time and again as I re-learn, rehearse, and polish my own performance for delivering the best ritual I possibly can in the future.
Hard Back – 108 Pages
You can get your copy, here.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 44 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 44.