At every meeting of the BPOE, and every social function, when the hour of 11:00 p.m. tolls, the Lodge conducts a charming ceremonial known as the "Eleven O'clock Toast." In fact, the clock tolling the eleventh hour is part of the BPOE official emblem, and is directly behind the representation of an elk's head in the emblem of the Order.
Regular meetings of Subordinate Lodges have always been held at night. In the earlier days, they were usually held on Sunday nights and were concluded about eleven o'clock. As the participants departed, the Brothers made inquiries about the absent Brothers and expressed sympathetic interest in the causes of their absence.
It soon became a custom for some member to propose a toast to the Brothers who were not present. And in the course of time, this custom was quite generally observed whenever a group of Elks were together at eleven o'clock. Eventually, the Grand Lodge specifically provided for such a ceremonial to be observed during Lodge sessions; and designated it as "The Eleven O'clock Toast." Under this provision, whenever a Lodge was in session at that hour, the regular order of business was suspended for a few moments while the Exalted Ruler recited the beautiful ritual prescribed, concluded with the words: "To our absent Brothers."
Since women were permitted to join the Elks since 1995, the toast is now pronounced as "To our absent Members."
"The Elk's Alphabet"
(Written on the Elks' Fiftieth Anniversary)
By Bro. Raymond A. Browne New York Lodge No. 1 BPOE
The "A" is for "Altar," where proudly repose The Three Precious Symbols that ev'ry Elk knows. The "B" is for "Brother, a word that we love; It makes us all kin, does the term from Above. The "C" is for "Charity, noblest of deeds; It carries a blessing in each of its seeds. The "D" is for "Discord" we never have known, And "Duty," that bids us to take care of our own. The "E" is for "Eleven," the hour of prayer, When "Our Absent Brothers" our loving thoughts share. The "F" is for "Fidelity," ne'er does it lag; Just now it bids us to stand up for our Flag. "The "G" stands for "God," the Omnipotent King, Whose children we are, and whose praises we sing. The "H" is for our "Home," where a welcome awaits, The "Wandering Elk" who has come to our gates. The "I" is for "Initiate," waiting the words, That makes him an Elk, with a place in the herds. The "J" is for "Justice," impartial and free, Yet tempered with Mercy, as Justice should be. The "K" is for "Knowledge," that thrills you and me, That all the world honors the "B.P.O.E." The "L" is for "Lodges," all over the land, About fifteen hundred, and many more planned. The "M" is for "Mem'ry," of each bygone prince Who helped found our Order, just fifty years since. The "N" is the "Nation" of which we're a part, And love for it burns bright in ev'ry Elk's heart. The "O" is for our "Order," and likewise our "Oath," As long as life last, we'll be faithful to both. The "P" is our "Pockets," that we reach in, and quick, To help the distressed, and the poor, and the sick. The "Q" is the "Queens" of our hearts and our lives, Our Mothers, and Sisters, our Sweethearts, and Wives. The "R" is "religion," we know only ONE: To do good to all, and do evil to none. The "S" is the "Star" that looks down from above, And sheds on our Altar the radiance of love. The "T" is for "Time," with his scythe and his glass; He bids us remember, "Do good as ye pass." The "U" is the "Unknown," where are Brothers of old, Found rest when the story of life was all told. And "V" is the "Vision" that sometimes seems plain Of that Other World where we'll meet them again. The "W" the "Widows" who call not in vain; We've helped them before, and we'll help them again. "X" that's the "Xample" we set to the world, Wherever the standard of Elkdom's unfurled. The "Y" is for "Youngsters," for someone has told How Elks are all children who never grow old. The "Z" is the "Zeal" that we have for the Right; The Alphabet's ended; I thank you - Good Night!