THE DEGREES OF THE ORDER
The Order of Royal & Select Masters consists of four Degrees and the present order of conferring the degrees is Select Master, Royal Master, Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master and the historical period covered by these degrees is ended shortly before the period spoken of in Royal Arch Chapter. On admission, one is said to be “Chosen” as a Select Master and during the ceremony the candidate is decorated with the breast jewel of a Companion of the Order. During the fourth and last Degree, one is invested with the distinctive, triangular apron of the Order. A Companion reaching the Chair of Council is styled “Illustrious” and one year after leaving the Chair is eligible for appointment as an Officer of District Grand Council.
The degrees may be briefly explained thus:
Select Master: The most important Holy Treasure in the Temple, which plays an intrinsic part within the ceremonies, was the Ark of the Covenant. A copy of this and other treasures were eventually to be placed in the into the Secret Vault, or Crypt, whose very existence was known to but a Select few involved in its construction, beneath the Holy of Holies.
The image is the jewel awarded to a Companion on becoming a Select Master
Royal Master: Work on the Temple is nearing completion and some of the Overseers are anxious as to when they will receive the Master Word. A certain favourite ventures to enquire of our Grand Master, Hiram Abif. The disquisition that ensues is rightly regarded, by those duly qualified to pass comment, as the most enthralling and spiritually uplifting passage of ritual to be found anywhere in the whole of Freemasonry.
Most Excellent Master: Our Grand Master has been murdered and indecently interred according to ancient usage. - but life goes on. The Temple has been completed and the Ark of the Covenant installed in the Holy of Holies. King Solomon prepares to consecrate and dedicate the edifice to the Deity in all its glory and beauty. It is an appropriate time to bestow a distinguishing mark of approval for services rendered.
Super Excellent Master: Time has moved on nearly 400 years and the fortunes of the Israelites take a downturn. With the vast Babylonish forces of Nebuchadnezzar threatening Jerusalem, the vassal King Zedekiah and his subjects make their respective plans for their inevitable fate.The image is the Apron awarded to a Super Excellent Master