Grand Honours – An Explanation

December 3, 2017 Clark No comments exist


-RW Bro. Russ Fisher – Beacon #190


The sign we know as “GRAND HONORS” in Alberta actually consists of a combination of four signs originating from four different sources:

  1. Ancient and primitive methods of expressing joy and appreciation.
  2. Ancient methods of giving or receiving a toast.
  3. Medieval heraldry.
  4. The working tools of operative Masonry.


The actual evolution or origin of the sign we use in Alberta today is not clear. Honors are referred to in many Masonic writings both ancient and modern, but whether or not these honours are the same or similar to what we use today is very doubtful.


According to Mackey, Grand Honors are those peculiar acts and gestures which the Craft has always been accustomed to express their homage, their respect or their grief on important or memorable occasions. “Honors” is a term formerly applied to a particular mode of giving or receiving a toast.

The first part of Grand Honors consists of slapping the thighs. Among primitive people, this gesture denoted joy, enthusiasm or thanksgiving.


Crossing the arms over the breast, the fingers touching the shoulders, the forearms thus form a saltire or St. Andrew’s Cross, one of the eight great ordinaries in Heraldry. This sign is found on many coats of arms and flags all over the world, and is a sign of respect and honor.


When the hands are slapped over the head, the forearms form a right angle triangle, or an angle of 90 degrees, the fourth part of a circle, the builders square, the meaning of which is well known to all of you.


Clapping the hands together and stamping the feet have always been used as an expression of enthusiasm and appreciation.


Thus, to sum up, when we receive someone with Grand Honors, we are by signs conveying the following message:

  1. We welcome you with joy.
  2. We receive you with respect and honor.
  3. We greet you, on the square.
  4. We show our appreciation of your presence.


Note: Grand Honors are given at the reception of distinguished Masons; at the Installation ceremonies of the Worshipful Master; at the installation ceremonies in Grand Lodge; at the dedication of a Lodge room; and at     the ceremonies of a Lodge.


Remember: Grand Honors should be directed to the distinguished Brethren being honored and not at the Brother leading them.

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