It is best to ensure that Brethren initially form a circle with arms at their sides – this ensures even spacing. When the circle is complete, the Brethren form the chain by spreading their arms “Right over Left” and grasp hands.
Bro. Initiate, tonight it is with open arms that you are received into Freemasonry, into this, the ________ Lodge and into the hearts of the Brethren of this Masonic Circle.
You will observe that the arms of all the Brethren reach beyond their immediate neighbours symbolising the far reaching nature of Masonic help. Take notice also that each Brother’s arms cross the breasts of the Brethren on either side of him, illustrating the protection Brother gives to Brother from the attacks of the insidious whenever the need arises. This Chain, thus formed, is symbolic of our Order. It is a double chain, therefore it is doubly strong and has a double meaning.
Firstly, it shows the manner in which the Initiate is received into Freemasonry – the Brethren receiving you into this circle, a circle without end. Secondly, Bro. Initiate, you are grasping the hand of the Immediate Past Master across the breast of the Worshipful Master. The immediate Past Master represents the past, the Worshipful Master the present and you, Bro. Initiate, the future. Thus the past looks through the present to the future to see the continuation of its work.
The chain being a double one, should it so happen that a link is broken by the Great Architect of the Universe calling a Brother to the Grand Lodge above, the chain remains unbroken because of the other links, but a weakness remains until that broken link is replaced by a new Brother. Tonight, Bro. Initiate, you are that new link and may you remain strong and unbroken until you, in turn, receive your summons to the Grand Lodge above.
Part of the manufacture of all chains requires that they should be tested from time to time. To ensure that they will withstand the strains which will be placed upon them, they are tested beyond their normal strength. So is our Masonic chain tested as illustrated by the gentle swaying of the Brethren from side to side. This swaying without breaking demonstrates the strength of our Brotherhood.
In conclusion, Bro. Initiate, there is a short verse which summarises very aptly the whole meaning of this Masonic chain:
” On the strength of one link in the cable
Dependeth the might of the chain –
Who knowest when thou may be tested
So live that thou bearest the strain ”