The Provincial Grand Orator
I was thrilled when I was asked to be the second Provincial Grand Orator for this great Province following in the footsteps of Kai Hughes, now the Grand Orator for the English Constitution.
My Masonic career started when I was initiated into Amity Lodge No 7782 in the Province of West Lancashire in 1977. Later I joined Tuscan Lodge No 4427 in Wigan and then I joined Blackburn Lodge No 6720 meeting at Darwen in East Lancashire and in 1999 I was invited to become a member of the Manchester Lodge for Masonic Research No 5502 meeting at Bridge Street, Manchester.
Since 2009 I have been an Assistant Orator for the Province and I am a firm believer that Orations are a valuable part of the fabric of Freemasonry offering Lodges the opportunity to listen to a short oration and afterwards join in a debate on the content of that oration thereby stimulating learning and a better understanding of the Craft and Freemasonry in general.
As my predecessor said “Why do we have an Orator and why do we need one?” The answer to these questions is shown below my personal details.
Past Provincial Junior Grand Deacon 2003
Provincial Grand Standard Bearer 2003-4
What is an Orator?
The office of Orator is not a new concept to English Freemasonry and a number of early English Lodges such as Antiquity No.2 had a Lodge Orator. More recently, Thomas Harper Lodge, No.9612, revived the office on its consecration in 1996 and our own Internet Lodge No.9659 then replicated this idea.
What does an Orator do?
In very simple terms he delivers a short oration approved by UGLE and afterwards stimulates discussion on the content of that oration. The difference between an oration and a lecture is that the focus of learning should arise out of the debate, which should provide the stimulus for Brethren to research further into the subject and to reflect on their own views.
Why do we need an Orator to do this?
You don’t. Anyone with experience and a good general knowledge about Freemasonry may be able to deliver the oration and answer questions but in addition, the Orator should be able to stimulate and facilitate debate.
However, I am sure that all of you are in no doubt that the future of the Craft relies heavily on our ability to not only recruit the right people but, more importantly, to retain them.
The emphasis on retention has been the focus of the Mentoring Scheme and the Orators’ Scheme compliments this by providing a focus on our rituals. So many candidates go through the three Degrees without the meaning of those Degrees ever being explained to them. There are a number of research lodges such as Quatuor Coronati and our own Manchester Association for Masonic Research which research the origins and historical side of Freemasonry but there are very few opportunities for Brethren to be exposed to and explore the lessons and symbology found in the ritual. The role of the Provincial Grand Orator, supported by his team, will be to actively develop this aspect of Freemasonry as well as developing further orations for official approval.
So what is the difference between an Oration, Lecture and Talk?
They all impart knowledge but the difference lies in the system of approval and the content and overall aim.
An Oration should be short, lasting no more than 10 minutes, and should focus on the deeper meaning of the ritual and its symbolism. It will have been submitted to and approved by a small committee at UGLE. This committee aims to ensure that the content is historically accurate and that the content does not seek to impose the author’s ideas but rather, in the case of subjective thought, it puts forward a number of ideas for debate and discussion. It is important to note, that the Committee members do not aim to stifle free thought, in fact they encourage new ideas as this will stimulate interest and debate.
A Lecture typically will last around 20 – 30 minutes and will generally be on some historical aspect of Freemasonry or on a subject of particular interest to a Lodge in the Province, e.g. “The Development of Freemasonry in Manchester” or “The Grand Lodge of Wigan”. The lecture will have been submitted to the Materials Committee, which is a sub committee of the Provincial Education and Development Committee, who will check it for historical accuracy before giving it the Provincial ‘seal of approval’. The author of the Lecture is then listed as one of the Provincial Lecturers and Lodges can contact him to request if he can deliver a lecture in their Lodge.
A Talk is simply just that. It is a talk on any subject, which has not gone through any form of peer review, and its content has not been checked for historical accuracy. It should appear on the Lodge summons as “Bro. Smith will give a Talk on Freemasonry in Spain” or “Masonic Lodges I have Visited”.
Are you interested in becoming part of the Provincial Orator's Team or becoming a Provincial Lecturer?
If you are interested in delivering Orations around the Province, then please contact me HERE. You should have a reasonable knowledge of the history of Freemasonry and an interest in ritual and symbolism. The team will practice two or three Orations each month and you will be expected to deliver an Oration once or twice per month; more if you are willing.
If you are interested in becoming one of the designated Provincial Lecturers, then simply submit your proposed lecture to the Materials Committee via its Secretary - Duncan Ferguson - email: email@example.com or Telephone: 01706 213 814
Interested in having an Oration delivered in your Lodge?
Ideally Orations suit smaller groups of people as this generates more debate. Your Lodge should be open minded and willing to listen to the Orator. It is not something that should be done just because you have no ceremony to conduct and this will act as a ‘fill in’. If you are interested then please contact one of the members of the Orators Team below and we will let you know whether we are available:
Provincial Grand Orator
Fred Lomax firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01257 400237
Reg Foster email@example.com Tel: 01706 6845060
Kai Hughes may also be available on Kai@zen.co.uk Tel 07590 445777
I am keeping a list of where and when we will be delivering Orations on the calendar page - click here. I am also developing a list of more advanced reading materials that may be of interest for those who want to read further, particularly into the philosophical or more esoteric facets of Freemasonry - click here. Similarly I am maintaining a list of recommended websites that have a wealth of more in depth material - click here.
WBro Fred Lomax