The Masonic Poetry of Dr. Rob Morris
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By Rob Morris
Dr. Rob Morris remains a celebrated Freemason and is known for having been Grand Master of Kentucky in 1858-1859, as well as for having founded the Order of the Eastern Star. A prolific writer and poet, he preferred to go by Rob instead of Robert to distinguish himself from another poet named Robert Morris.
Morris was crowned Poet Laureate of Freemasonry in 1884 by the Grand Lodge of New York. He was the second to receive such an honor. In fact, the title had not been given since Robert Burns received it in 1767 in Cannongate Killwinning Lodge No. 2 in Edinburgh, Scotland. This accomplishment by itself is worth noting. His work was indeed great; Morris wrote more than 400 poems about Masonry and the Eastern Star during his life.
Morris and his wife had the idea of starting an organization for the wives and other female relatives of Freemasons. He founded the Order of the Eastern Star and start chartering chapters in 1850. Morris wrote first Eastern Star ritual, titled “The Rosary of the Eastern Star,” in the 1850s. In the late 1860s, Morris passed the Rosary on to Robert Macoy, who flushed it out more fully and organized and mad it more systematic to ensure adoption by the individual chapters.
One of Rob Morris’s most celebrated poems, “A Mason’s Ties and Vows,” is not included in this book because as it stands in its most famous form, it is actually a compilation of three different poets’ work. Rob Morris wrote the base of the poem, which includes the famous line, “On Yonder Book that oath I took and will I break it? Never! / But stand by this, and this, and this, for ever and for ever.” However, around 1890, Samuel Murrow, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indian Territory (later to become the Grand Lodge of Oklahoma) added that line to his own poem. In 1942, Benjamin L. Hadley added extra verses onto Murrow’s poem, thus rendering it again further from Morris’s original, yet still retaining the central meaning.