A Noble History
The noble history of the York Rite offers the contemplative Mason myriad possibilites for further enlightenment.
York Rite legends are included in documents dating as far back as the 10th century. It became identified very early on with Freemasonry as practiced in Britain and transmitted to the American Colonies. The story line of the York Rite degrees, like those of the Symbolic Lodge, is based on the completion and dedication of King Solomon’s Temple; and the building of the 2nd Temple.
Its degrees continue the themes and practices of operative Masonry as the progressive system of moral instruction to which we have already been introduced in symbolic craft Masonry, and have come to expect as students of our speculative art. The York Rite adds immeasurably to our own personal quest for spiritual and self development.
The degrees and orders of the York Rite can be traced by written records from 1744 with the Royal Arch conferred in York, England to the Knight Templar conferred in Boston in 1769. The Cryptic or Council degrees were not established as part of the York Rite system until well into the 19th Century. But we find during the second half of the 18th century, both the Royal Arch and the Knight Templar degrees described in York lodge records as the 4th and 5th degrees of Masonry respectively, and were said to been conferred as part of a five degree system known as the Early York Rite.
During the early 19th century, the term York Rite came into common usage in early America because there was a need to distinguish the degree system offered by it, from that offered by the Scottish Rite. Because of the growing popularity of both Rites in America, Freemasons made almost daily use of the names of both in their Masonic conversations as a way of distinguishing between the two. Historically, many Freemasons have opted to belong to one or both of these great Rites. The quest of the Master Mason is not complete without them.
Today, the York Rite is known all over the world, and its significance is highly appreciated by all serious students of Masonry.