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Where does our name “Nisi Dominus” come from?

At the end of 1934 Burton Court Lodge sponsored the petition of a new Lodge.  The idea of this new lodge was the conception of a number of senior members of Burton Court who would provide the first five WMs of the new lodge.  One of the most influential of these was W.Bro Walter Rind who had the idea that the new lodge should be “different” and thereby would expand on the Burton Court’s tradition of being unconventional.

Much thought and discussion was spent on a choice of name for the new lodge, finally W.Bro Rind suggested “Nisi Dominus” and after he had given his reasons for the choice, the other founders enthusiastically adopted it.

Nisi Dominus is a setting of the Latin text of Psalm 127 (Vulgate 126) by George Friederic Handel.


Psalm 127 is entitled “A song of Degrees of Solomon” it begins with the phrase “Nisi Dominus Fustra” which literally translates to “Unless the Lord in vain”. Transliterated it is “Except the Lord build the house they labour in vain that build it”.

The aptness of the phrase is obvious to Masons but there is another aspect of this, it is the motto inscribed on the coat of arms of the Royal Borough of Chelsea and thereby recalls the historical connection the Lodge has with the Royal Hospital.


Psalm 127

Psalm 127King James Version (KJV)

127 Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.

As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.

Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.