A Brief History of the Order
An Order of David and Jonathan existed in Holland in the 18th Century but our present Order was brought from America by Dr. I. Zacharie about 1875. Originally the Order, as worked in America, consisted of a single degree, which could be conferred on any worthy Master Mason by another brother who had received it himself. Under Zacharie, a Grand Council was formed in 1887 and the ritual was extended to the present system of three degrees. Later there followed a problematic period when the Grand Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees was empowered to confer the American version of the Degree. The conflict between the two bodies was resolved in 1931 when all rights were transferred to the Grand Council (later Conclave) of the Order of the Secret Monitor.
The Degrees of the Order and the Ritual
The degrees of the Order are Secret Monitor, Prince and Supreme RulerIn the First Degree the candidate is “inducted” as a Secret Monitor. The ceremony is based on the friendship between David (father of Solomon) and Jonathan (son of Saul the first King of Israel). David was a great warrior and a servant of the King. Saul however, soon became jealous of David’s brilliance and plotted to kill him. Through his friendship with Jonathan, David was informed of the plot and fled to the hills for safety. In order to keep David informed of developments within the King’s court, Jonathan devised a special system of communication upon which the Degree embraces and develops.
Saul was informed of the association between David and his son and blamed those around him for encouraging it. Saul embarked on a major search for David, slaughtering many whom he believed to be involved in his concealment but David triumphed and eventually became the second King of Israel. His friendship with Jonathan remained unbroken until the death of the latter. This is the main theme of the Second Degree in which the candidate is “admitted” as a Prince of the Order
The Third Degree of the Order is unique in English Freemasonry in that it is also the ceremony of installation, in which the elected brother is installed as Supreme Ruler of his Conclave. As part of the ceremony the newly installed Supreme Ruler also receives his “commission” (usually from the Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler), which carries the rank of “Supreme Ruler within the Order”. As installation ceremonies go – this is a long one!
These ceremonies are very moving and it is upon the principles exemplified therein that the system of communicating friendship and caring among the members of the Order is promoted in a practical way.
Structure of the Order
The Order is controlled by Grand Conclave with the Grand Supreme Ruler as its head, who has a Deputy and other Grand Officers. Under Grand Conclave there are a number of Provinces (in the UK) and District Grand Conclaves, (overseas) each headed by a Provincial/District Grand Supreme Ruler who is responsible for the management of the Conclaves within his Province or District.
Conclaves and Officers
Each private Conclave is headed by a Supreme Ruler who represents David. The Immediate Past Ruler represents Jonathan. The other principal officers are the Counsellor and the Guide. Then come the usual offices of Treasurer, Secretary and Director of Ceremonies. Next are four officers who are of key importance in promoting the fundamental principles of the Order – the Visiting Deacons. They are each assigned a portion of the membership and are responsible for communicating with their “charges” between meetings of the Conclave to ensure that all is well with them. The other officers are the ADC, Guarder and Sentinel. In the Second Degree the titles of some the officers take on the names of certain Biblical characters involved in the story.
Qualification for Membership
A candidate for induction into the Order must be a Master Mason in good standing, and member of a regular Craft Lodge under a recognised Constitution.