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
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
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
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
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
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.