’Twas in the year 1896, and on the 25th of May,
Which was a very beautiful, sunshiny day,
That thousands of Free Masons came far from home
To be present at the laying of the foundation stone,
Of the new North Bridge of beautiful Edinburgh,
Which was laid without any one coming to sorrow.
And, as the procession passed along beautiful Princes Street,
The craftsmen in their attire looked tidy and neat,
While flags floated from the principal buildings and hotels,
And the stirring music of the bands on the air swells,
And bright sunshine prevailed lighting up Princes Street,
So warm that the spectators were almost burnt with heat.
The balconies were occupied by a number of lady sightseers,
And from them the craftsmen received hearty cheers,
As they viewed their beautiful banners, unfurled to the breeze,
And with their banners and regalia, they did them please,
While the sweet strains of the bagpipes made them feel gay,
And which will be remembered for many a day.
And, though the crowd was big, it was very orderly.
Which I’m sure was a pleasant sight to see,
Because the craftsmen were allowed to pass by easily,
And to step out with heads erect, right gallantly;
And with their jewels and insignia, they made a grand show,
While marching to the music quick and slow.
About a quarter to two o’clock the civic dignitaries took their stand,
Behind the Grand Lodge, and looked very grand,
At the rear of the procession, which made it complete;
Then the march was continued to the end of the street,
Which was certainly a very grand display,
And which was the first part of the ceremony of the day.
The policemen in the procession looked very gran’,
And marched past steady to a man.
Although the sun was warm and strong,
Yet quite fearlessly they marched along,
With spirits light and gay along Princes Street,
And their stalwart appearance was very neat.
Near the bridge was erected a commodious platform,
And covered by a canopy which did it adorn,
And surmounted by the Royal Standard, unfurled to the breeze,
Also the Scottish Standard, which did Scottish hearts please;
And the Inniskilling Dragoon Band was also there,
And discoursed sweet, and thrilling music, I do declare.
And on the platform were lords and earls in a. row,
And ladies in bright summer dresses, which made a grand show;
Likewise, city Councillors and Magistrates,
And a great number of big Magnates;
And all of them looked quite happy and gay,
The more that they had come from far away.
Besides, there was a great number of the craftsmen there,
Which helped to enhance the scene, I do declare;
And the police arrangements were admirably carried out,
By Chief Constable Henderson and Superintendent Bain without any doubt,
And, about half-past two o’clock, the Lord Provost took the chair.
And made a very eloquent speech to the bystanders there,
And the plaudits from the spectators rent the air,
Then the bands played “God Save the Queen,”
Which was most beautiful to hear – and to be seen
Near by Princes Street’s flowery gardens and its shubberies green.
Then the Grand Master Mason delegated the Lord Provost to lay the stone,
Which be did most willingly, without a moan,
In accordance with the ancient rites of Freemasonry,
Which certainly was a most imposing sight to see;
And in the cavity of the stone coins and papers were laid,
By the Grand Secretary and the Grand Treasurer, who weren’t afraid,
Because its an honour to do so, be it said.
Then a prayer was said, and the hundredth psalm was played,
Then the stone was then lowered, and laid,
With three distinct stops during music by the band,
Then the Lord Provost stepped forward with a silver trowel and mallet in hand,
And gave the stone three gentle knocks,
And the people, wishing to be nearer the platform, eagerly flocks.
Then the Provost asked God their present undertaking to bless,
Hoping that the bridge in course of time would prove a success;
And that God would protect the builders every day,
So that every stone would be laid secure, without delay.
Then the “Merry Masons” was played by the band,
And really the scene was inspiring and grand;
Then the ceremonial concluded with three hearty cheers,
While the loud music from the bands deafens the bystanders ears;
Then the people dispersed quietly with spirits light and gay,
Saying they would long remember 1896, and the 25th of May.