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B.10.2 Some Familiar Terms

In the last years of the eighteenth century the Royal Arch “lodge” became a “chapter”; its “Brethren” were called “Companions”; and its candidates were no more “passed” or “raised” to the degree but “exalted”.

-Chapter is an old name in Masonry. Masons met in chapter in medieval time. The word was used in the earliest Craft Constitutions of 1723 that authorised Masters and Wardens to meet with members in Chapters “upon any emergency or occurrence”. This, however, had nothing to do with Royal Arch. Chapter is a religious word used to describe a meeting of monks chaired by the head of their house, or by a higher authority: they were said to be “meeting in chapter”, usually in the chapter-house attached to the cathedral or abbey. In the same way, a Synod or council of a cathedral’s clergy presided by the dean was a “chapter”. For about two centuries certain Masonic gatherings outside the Craft degrees were known as “chapters) too. Many of the added degrees meet in chapters, as do some assemblies of knights (such as the garter and the bath). The word “chapter” was used for the Royal Arch assemblies to indicate their higher importance. The use of this term was officialised in the by-laws of the “Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter” of 1765, in the Charter of Compact of 1766 and this was confirmed by the Grand Chapters of 1766 and 1771.

-The word “Companion” came to be used after the assembly of Royal Arch Masons was defined as “chapter”. It has no ancient Masonic basis, but it seemed more appropriate that “Brethren” and, also, allowed knowing easily the grade of each Mason. It is also said that the “Companions”, or members of the Royal Arch, are entitled to a full explanation of the mysteries of the Order, whereas the “Brethren”, or members of the lesser degrees, are kept in ignorance of the sublime secret that is only disclosed in the chapters.

-The term “exalted” appeared first in the Charter of Compact in 1776 and in the minutes of the Chapter of Concord in 1787. Its adoption must have been inspired by the extensive Biblical use of this Latin word that means “to raise or lift-up”. In Masonry it means “to raise or elevate in dignity, rank, power or position”.

-The word “sojourner” is also of Latin origin and means “to dwell in a place for a time or to live somewhere as a stranger and not as a member of the Community”. At the time of the Royal Arch “union”, some chapters had Junior, Senior and Principal Sojourners whose duty was to guard the veils. With the formation of the first Grand Chapter the Sojourners were elected annually, although there was also a habit to let the Principal Sojourner appoints his two assistants. This was made official in the Royal Arch Regulations of 1823 that lasted until 1886 when the rule was changed, and all Sojourners had to be elected again by the Chapter.

-The “Janitor” was initially called the “Tiler” as in the Craft, and the new name was adopted not to confuse them. It is really what the word means, a doorkeeper.