Friday, December 17, 2010

1893 - Knights Templar Christmas Toast - New York Times

This really was published in the New York Times in December of 1893! How times have changed...

Toast to the Grand Master

Knights Templars to Drink it at High Noon To-Day

One Hundred Thousand Men Send Christmas Greeting to Their Chief - The Grand Master Makes a Reply in Which He Dwells Upon the Significance of the Birth of Christ - He Offers a Toast to the "Valiant Sir Knights."

PORTLAND, Me., Dec. 24. - The following toast was prepared for Christmas by the Grand Encampment Knights Templars:

To Our Most Eminent Grand Master, Hugh McCurdy:

A hundred thousand Knights Templars send greetings, wishing him a merry Christmas, with peace, health, and happiness.

The following is the full text of the response of the Grand Master:

Headquarters of the Grand Master of Knights Templars, United States of America.

CORUNNA, Mich., Dec. 25, 1893.

To all Knights Templars. Greeting:

Returning thanks to our Father in Heaven for the privilege which He has vouchsafed to us in permitting us again to assemble on this gladsome day around our mystic triangle, and with hearts strung in sweetest harmony with the new life of this gracious day we thank you for the toast you offer us.

Christmas, the day of days, the birthday of Him whose coming gave a new meaning to the words of your Christmas greeting - peace, health, and happiness. Of each of these, and of every word dear to man's heart, His life must forever stand as the true exponent. He defined words by living them. To know His definitions and to live them, this alone is life - this alone is Templarism.

To the true Templar the incarnation is the centre and heart of all worship, obedience, and morality - words which are only the names for peace, health and happiness. For Him at Bethlehem's cradle peace, health, and happiness had their birth. There everything that was old came to an end, everything that was new had its beginning. Thus Knights Templars must ever give to Christmas Day with its song of peace and good will to men a sovereign place. Immanuel, God with us, this is the essence of peace, health and happiness -- this the magic word which opens wide the doors to the grandest possibilities of human nature. God is with us as man with a  heart human in its sympathy and brotherhood. This new presence signified new knowledge, new hopes, new powers, new laws.

To us the Christ-child was born to enable each to reach the perfection for which he was made. My fraters, is this great truth to us a doctrine, a tradition, a philosophy, or is it a life as His life was? Are we so learning this truth that our own manhood is developing into a complete self? The more like Him we become, the more ourselves are we. WE are only truly manly when we share the completeness of His character.

From a hundred thousand Knights Templars, to whom the story of the cradle, the cross, the sepulchre, and the Mount of Ascension is as familiar as dear household words, from a hundred thousand manly men comes to me again the Christmas greeting of peace, health, and happiness.

It is the life men live that gives value to their wishes and words. Is this your good wish for me? It is not you who speak, it is the manger at Bethlehem speaking of life - larger, nobler, more divine, of character kingly, of service filled with its gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. A good wish has value only as it embodies the principles wrapped in the manger. It has thus its highest value when coming form men, who in their earthly pilgrimage are guided by the star in the East, as were the wise men of the Orient, bringing their best offering to the Christ-child. A life of peace, health, and happiness is the best wish that man can offer for his brother man. Such a life is a continual Christmas greeting. Such a life it is the aim of every Knight Templar to live. That this is your aim, Sir Knights, is to me your best wish for my merry Christmas, peace, health, and happiness.

"The greatest gift a hero leaves his race is to have been a hero."

The best wish for a brother's peace, health, and happiness is man's own peaceful, healthful, happy life.

"'Tis that compels the elements and wrings a human music from the indifferent air."

The best offering that the Son of man made for man was his peaceful, happy, healthful life. His was the most peaceful, most healthful, happiest life ever lived on earth. To live such a life, Sir Knights, is to wield your swords in defense of the Christian religion. If every man who wears the Christian armor will go forth from the cradle at Bethlehem thus to plead the cause of the Christ-child, whose love steals into the heart of men as the balm of flowers into the pulses of a Summer's evening, we shall soon see the enemies of man's peace, health, and happiness to put to flight. It is only under the benign influence of such warfare that men are to beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks, and to learn war no more.

We live in an age in which not only well wishing, but well doing is a colossal virtue, an age in which -

"It is the heart, and not the brain, That to the highest doth attain."

like the pilgrims in Dante, who climbed up a mountain on whose sides there was a mysterious music, ever growing sweeter. And thus, as we go on through life greeting one another each Christmas Day, we learn more and more the truth that the kingdom over which the heart is king is an ever expanding kingdom - the greatest kingdom upon earth. Earth's greatest gospel is man's love for his brother man. Neither ocean nor mountain, nor lapse of time can separate man from his fellows. Let us hasten to invade this kingdom and master it. It is a goodly land. As we go up to possess it, following in the footsteps of our divine Lord from His cradle to the Mount of His Ascension, we shall as faithful pilgrims hear that angel song of peace and good will to men ever growing sweeter, until at last we reach the height of all heights, the hope of all hopes, the joy of all joys - the Supreme God, in whose empire of boundless good will to men no faithful human heart can cherish to wish of peace, health, and happiness too blessed to be true.

"There, above the noise and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles,
And one born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files."

Sir Knights, I have the honor to propose this toast, and ask you to participate:

To the Valiant Sir Knights of the Nineteenth Century, One Hundred Thousand Strong:

Noble sons of illustrious ancestors, whose knightly lives shed increasing lustre upon a glorious past and illuminate the present with the inspiring hope of a brighter future.
HUGH M'CURDY, Grand Master.

These toasts are to be drunk by Sir Knights and friends and noon to-morrow.

The New York Times
New York, New York
25 December 1893