The Grade of Excellent Master, or Excellent Mason as it was known in its earlier working, is of such age as to confuse us in estimating just how old it is. It is almost safe to state that it is as old as is Royal Arch Masonry, because it has always formed a part thereof. Even in the United States it is mentioned as early as 1769, when in St. Andrew’s Chapter, Boston, a Brother was “made by receiving the four steps, that of an Excellt., Sup.-Excellt., Royll. Arch and Kt. Templar.”
Until the first quarter of the 20th Century, the Excellent was never worked alone; it was always with the Super Excellent and Royal Arch. Later, when this most beautiful method of work was abandoned almost everywhere, the title was changed to “Excellent Master,” the ritual reworked and in Scotland was placed as the immediate predicant of the Royal Arch. It is not worked elsewhere today, save in the Allied Councils of the United States. Ireland has preserved some of both the Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master in her veil-working in the Royal Arch, but the formal ceremonies are a thing of the past.
The origin of the American Royal Arch did not cause a wide swept discontinuance of the older form of working. The Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Virginia used the old form, and even chartered Chapters as “Excellent Super Excellent” well into the 19th Century. The very abundance of early records and Minutes makes unnecessary its transcription as we are all familiar with the antiquity of the Excellent Master and its significance to Royal Arch Masonry.
The Ritual used in the United States is the Scottish work, unchanged. It is a beautiful ceremony, and almost necessary to the Royal Arch. Having passed the three veils in Babylon, there is necessity at Jerusalem only to enter the fourth, or White, Veil. It is a simple and beautiful method of working.
The Jewel of the Grade is the Pentagram, in gold, suspended from a scarlet ribbon.
The Apron of the Grade is white, with a scarlet border, containing in the center a gold pentagram.
The Collar of the Grade is approximately four inches wide and of scarlet color.