In every Symbolic Lodge, there are three principal officers, namely, a Master, a Senior Warden, and a Junior Warden. This rule has existed ever since the revival, and for some time previous to that event, and is so universal that it has been considered as one of the landmarks. It exists in every country and in every Rite The titles of the officers may be different in different languages, but their functions as presiding over the Lodge in a tripartite division of duties, are everywhere the same. The German Masons call the two Wardens erste and zweite Aufseher; the French, premier and second Surveillant; the Spanish, primer and segundo Vigilante; and the Italians, primo and secondo Sorvegliante.
In the various Rites, the positions of these officers vary. In the American Rite, the Senior Warden sits in the West and the Junior in the South. In the French and Scottish Rites, both Wardens are in the West, the Senior in the Northwest and the Junior in the Southwest; but in all, the triangular position of the three officers relatively to each other is preserved; for a triangle being formed within the square of the Lodge, the Master and Wardens will each occupy one of the three points.
The precise time when the presidency of the Lodge was divided between these three officers or when they were first introduced into Freemasonry, is unknown. The Lodges of Scotland, during the Operative regime, or era, were governed by a Deacon and one Warden. The Earl of Cassilis was Master of Kilwinning in 1670, though only an Apprentice. This seems to have been not unusual, as there were cases of Apprentices presiding over Lodges. The Deacon performed the functions of a Master, and the Warden was the second officer, and took charge of and distributed the funds. In other words, he acted as a Treasurer.
This is evident from the Minutes of the Edinburgh Lodge, published by Brother Lyon. But the head of the Craft in Scotland at the same time was called the Warden General. This regulation, however, does not appear to have been universal even in Scotland, for in the Mark Book of the Aberdeen Lodge, under date of December 27, 1670, which was published by Brother W. J. Hughan in the Voice of Masonry, February, 1872, we find there a Master and Warden recognized as the presiding officers of the Lodge in the following Statute: "And likewise we all protest, by the oath we have made at our entry, to own the Warden of our Lodge as the next man in power to the Master, and in the Master's absence he is full Master."
Some of the English manuscript Constitutions recognize the offices of Master and Wardens. Thus the Harleian Manuscript, No. 1942, whose date is supposed to be about 1670, contains the "new articles" said to have been agreed on at a General Assembly held in 1663, in which is the following passage: "That for the future the said Society, Company and Fraternity of Free Masons shall be regulated and governed by one Master & Assembly & Wardens, as ye said Company shall think fit to chose, at every yarely General Assembly."
As the word Warden does not appear in the earlier manuscripts, it might be concluded that the office was not introduced into the English Lodges until the latter part of the seventeenth century. Yet this does not absolutely follow. For the office of Warden might have existed, and no statutory provision on the subject have been embraced in the general charges which are contained in those manuscripts, because they relate not to the government of Lodges, but the duties of Freemasons. This of course, is conjectural; but the conjecture derives weight from the fact that Wardens were officers of the English Gilds as early as the fourteenth century. In the Charters granted by Edward III, in 1354, it is permitted that these companies shall yearly elect for their government "a certain number of Wardens "
To a list of the Companies of the date of 1377 is affixed what is called the Oath of the Wardens of Crafts, of which this is the commencement: "Ye shall Were that ye shall wele and treuly oversee the Craft of-- whereof ye be chosen Wardeyns for the year. It thus appears that the Wardens were at first the presiding officers of the Gilds.
At a later period, in the reign of Elizabeth, we find that the chief officer began to be called Master; and in the time of James I, between 1603 and 1625, the Gilds were generally governed by a Master and Wardens.
An ordinance of the Leather-Sellers Company at that time directed that on a certain occasion "the Master and Wardens shall appear in state."
It is not, therefore, improbable that the government of Masonic Lodges by a Master and two Wardens was introduced into the regulations of the Order in the Seventeenth century, the "new article" of 1663 being a statutory confirmation of a custom which had just begun to prevail.
Senior Warden. He is the second officer in a Symbolic Lodge, and governs the Craft in the hours of labor. In the absence of the Master he presides over the Lodge, appointing some brothers not the Junior Warden, to occupy his place in the attest. His jewel is a level, a Symbol of the equality which exists among the Craft while at labor in the Lodge. His seat is in the West, and he represents the column of Strength. He has placed before him, and carries in all processions, a column, which is the representative of the right-hand pillar that stood at the porch of King Solomon's Temple. The Junior Warden has a similar column, which represents the left-hand pillar. During labor the Column of the Senior Warden is erect in the Lodge, while that of the Junior is recumbent. At refreshment, the position of the two columns is reversed.
Junior Warden. The duties of this officer have already been described (see Junior Warden). There is also an officer in a Commandery of Knights Templar, the fifth in rank, who is staled Senior Warden. He takes an important part in the initiation of a candidate. His jewel of office is a triple triangle, the emblem of Deity.
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