So Mote It Be

A Masonic Education Moment

Submitted by Larry Long – Littleton Lodge No. 131

Why do Masons end their prayers with the phrase “So mote it be”? It is customary in contemporary English to end prayers with a hearty “Amen,” a word meaning ‘So be it’. It is a Latin word derived from the Hebrew word meaning ‘certainly’. Thus a congregation saying “Amen” is literally saying “So be it”. The word mote is an archaic verb that means ‘may’ or ‘might’ and traces back to Old English. The phrase “So mote it be” means ‘So may it be’, which is the same as ‘So be it ‘. So why do Masons end their prayer this way? The answer goes back to the Regius Poem of about 1390 AD, the oldest know Masonic document (now housed in the British Museum, London). It is one of the Old Charges or Gothic Constitution used by early Freemasons to regulate their trade. It has a legendary history, regulations to guide the Mason trade and ruse of manners and moral conduct. The poem ends famously with this couplet: Amen! Amen! So mote it be! So say we all for charity. Thus Freemasons today end their prayers the same way they did in 1390. The next time you’re in lodge and say “So mote it be” after the chaplain finishes a prayer , remember that you are continuing a 600 year old Masonic Tradition.