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Brother Jean Sibelius

Brother Jean Sibelius
Jean Sibelius

Graphic from "Jean Sibelius by Ritva Raesnaa"

Brother Jean Sibelius
& Other Finnish Masonic Composers

by Brother Simo E. W. Laine

Jean Sibelius composed music for each Craft degree and that music nowadays forms a vital part of our work in three degrees here in Finland (Webb-based ritual).

Masonic music of Sibelius is known in profane world as Musique Religieuse Op. 113 and it has been recorded both in Finnish and English (by masons). The rights of these recordings - and sheet music - belong to F. & A.M. Suomi Lodge No. 1 in which Sibelius was a member.

Essays and research work about this music have been written in English, too.

Only couple of years old is the RA ritual music composed by Finnish composer, R.W.Bro. Pekka Kostiainen. It is used within our RA (Aldersgate) ceremonies.

Finnish composer, R.W.Bro. Bengt Johansson has composed music to be used in MMM ritual, too.


Brother Sibelius' beautiful "Finlandia"


More Sibelius Information
submitted by Bother Barnes A. Sharitt, Jr., MPS

Sibelius Composed Much Masonic Music

(Excerpts from article by William G. Preacher, 32
in The Northern Light)
(with some editing help from Brother Sakari Hilden, of Finland)

The most celebrated member of the class of 27 which was raised in Suomi Lodge No. 1, Finland, on August 18, 1922, when it was warranted by the Grand Lodge of New York, was Johan Julius Christian Sibelius., better known to the world as Jean Sibelius, who was 56 then. He was initiated, passed and raised from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. with an intermission of an hour for lunch.

Sibelius, who had been a noted musician more than 25 years, was appointed Grand Organist for the new Grand Lodge, a post he held throughout his life. He became interested in improvising music for the regular work and was persuaded to compose specific selections adapted for use in the lodge room. This culminated in the ritual music known as"Musique Religieuse," opus 113. Initially there were nine pieces with ultimately became fully orchestrated.

His mother Lodge, Suomi Lodge No. 1, was the first to hear this remarkable music, on January 5, 1927. It remained in manuscript form written in Finnish and Swedish until 1935, when an inscribed, bound copy of this great work was presented to the Grand Lodge of New Your by Sibelius. It was published for Mason use that year by Grand Lodge with an English test by RW Marshall Kernochan, a past Grand Trustee of New York.

A second edition appeared in 1950, which was revised with three additions including the well known "Finlandia," the national Finnish anthem written in 1899. (Ed. The Official Finnish National Anthem is "Our land" by F. Pacius.) This opus is adapted to New York craft work which serves as the basis of current Finnish ritual.

The various parts of Sibelius' Masonic Music are entitled "Adagio," "Thoughts Be Our Comfort," "Hymn: Through Gung Leaves," "Who Ne'er Hath Blent His Bread with Tears," "How Fair an Earth and Loving," "Onward, Ye Brethren," "Whosoever Hath a Love of Justice," "Ode to Fraternity: Good and Pleasant, O Ye Brethren," "Hymn: Praise Thy Holy Name on High," "Marche Funebre," "Ode: The Lofty Heaven and Widespread Earth," and "Finlandia Hymn." (Ed. While "Finlandia" is not a part of the ritual music. Many lodges sing it after the meeting.)

The music is highly adaptable and enterprising Masters, Organists, and singers will find many places where individual numbers will be found appropriate.

Charles Johnson, Marshall Kernochan, and A. Walter Kramer conceived the idea of popularizing a section of this ritualistic music, removing Masonic references. A choral arrangement resulted, changing "Onward, Ye Brethren" to "Onward, Ye People." It was first given at the New York World's Fair on May 1, 1938. The chorus was revised by Channing LeFebre with an orchestral accompaniment by Sibelius in 1939, and 100,000 copies were sold in the first 10 years.

Sibelius' works record his great versatility and creativity. He composed more than 100 songs, over 10 compositions for the violin and many for the piano. Perhaps the greatest of all are his rich orchestral compositions: the seven immortal symphonies with the "Kalevala" (Finnish Folklore) motif. Sibelius conducted the first performances of all his orchestral compositions in Finland and abroad with the exception of "Tapiola."

Sibelius was the recipient of many honors during his life and his name has been immortalized for all time in his music. An honorary doctorate was conferred by Yale University on his visit to the United States, in 1914. His 70th birthday was celebrated as a national holiday throughout Finland in 1935, and a commemorative stamp was issued on his 80th birthday.

Sibelius was honored by the American Lodge of Research on six occasions when his music formed an integral part of the program. He was elected a fellow in 1935. The Distinguished Achievement Award was presented to him by the Grand Lodge of New York in 1938 and special exhibit were arranged in the Grand Lodge Library and Museum on his 85th and 90th anniversaries in 1950 and 1955.

Sibelius was born December 8, 1865, at Hameenlinna, Finland. Both parents were Scandinavian-German descent, his father being a successful local physician. Even in youth , he revealed qualities of musical genius which were harbingers of future greatness.

He matriculated in law at the Imperial Alexander University in Helsinki in 188 but the following year he transferred to the Music Institute, his first love. He was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in 1888 and completed postgraduate study in Vienna and Berlin. He married in 1893, and was the proud father of six daughters. After spending his early years teaching as Professor of Composition at Helsinki Conservatory of Music, he was honored by the government with an annual grant to devote his life to creative work. He then spent 25 years composing, studying, and arranging concert tours at home and abroad.

He spent much of the latter part of his life in relative seclusion at his country estate about 25 miles northeast of Helsinki. He died Sept. 20, 1957, of a cerebral hemorrhage in his 92nd year.


Clipping submitted by Brother Sharitt & transcribed below

"This article was sent to me last year by Brother Harold Davidson, the Philalethes Society librarian and contains more data that relates to the composition of the Masonic Ritual Music, Op. 113. I believe that it may be of interest to you.

Barnes A. Sharitt, Jr. (MPS) St. Paul, MN"

In light of the book review of Sibelius and his Masonic Music: Sounds in Silence by Dr. Hermine Weigel Williams (Lewiston NY: Edwin Mellen Press, reviewed by Br. Wallace McLeod, FPS in the June 1999 issue of "the Philalethes"), the following remarks may be helpful. Two recordings of the Masonic Ritual Music, Op. 113 have been made of which I am aware. One is in cassette tape format and was issued by Finlandia, the Finnish record company; it is no longer in print. This recording was in Finnish. The other recording is a private issue compact disk recording by the Grand Lodge of Italy. Bro. Harold Davidson a year ago this spring sent me a list of its contents; if he would please re-send to me along with the address of the recording company and who performed it. It is performed in Italian. Perhaps one of our Italian brothers could inquire whether it is still available. The work is in twelve sections:
1. Adagio
2. Thoughts be Our Comfort
3. Hymn: Though Gung Leaves
4. Who Ne’er Hath Blent his Bread with Tears
5. How Fair an Earth and Loving
6. Onward, Ye Brethren
7. Whosoever Hath a Love of Justice
8. Ode to Fraternity: Good and Pleasant Oh Ye Brethren
9. Hymn: Praise Thy Holy Name on High
10. March Funebre
11. Ode: Thy Lofty Heaven and Widespread Earth
12. Finlandia Hymn

The closing section, the hymn Finlandia, has been recorded several times and is available on Finlandia compact disc 1576 59918 2, among other sources. The Swedish label, BIS is developing a complete discography of Sibelius works, but the Masonic Ritual Music, Op. 113 has not been recorded yet.

I thought that some of you may be interested in this data in light of the recent book review.

As a further sidelight relative to this composition, the section "Onward, Ye Brethren" was separately arranged as an anthem in 1940 and retitled "Onward, Ye People". It was widely used as means of expressing support for the Finns during the 1940 Finnish-Soviet War. I learned it in high school in the late 1950's.


Where to find great sounding midis of Sibelius and another brief biography: Classical Midi Archives
Also try "Jean Sibelius by Ritva Raesnaa"
And Sibelius in Finnish.