E. Urner Goodman and Carroll A. Edson wrote the first Vigil Honor ceremony (then known as the Third Degree) for the Grand Lodge. The ceremony served the Order well for twenty years from 1921 to 1940. However, with the changes necessary for the Order to become an official BSA program the National Executive Committee determined at their 1937 meeting in Pittsburgh that the ceremony needed to be revised.
Horace W. “Shorty” Ralston, the Philadelphia Scouter who was one of the Order’s early adult leaders in 1915, and had done the original research on the Lenni-Lenape WWW name was selected to perform the task.
In 1940, Ralston and his committee completed, the Ritual for the Vigil (Third) Honor. The ritual had taken nearly three years of meetings, discussions, and drafts to complete. The ceremony was printed in pamphlet format like the Ordeal and Brotherhood rituals that preceded it in 1936, the Vigil Honor ritual printed with a blue ink pamphlet cover.
Quote from the Introduction written in the front of the 1940 Ritual for the Vigil (Third) Honor:
The first Vigil was held in 1915, the ritual for which was very sketchy. Gradually there evolved a simple ritual, which kept in mind that the most important aspect of the induction into this Honor was the Vigil itself.
Several years ago it was felt that the ritual should be revised and more detailed instruction for keeping of the Vigil provided and that this should be done in a manner, which would conserve its simplicity. The present booklet aims to achieve these ends.
The ritual has been prepared to make it possible for one Vigil Honor member to induct a candidate without the services of a large honors team. Where several Vigil Honor members are available it will enhance the ritual if they can be in attendance to lend their presence and participate as provided in this very significant ceremony.
Where local lodges have several Vigil Honor members and desire to have a more elaborate calling out ceremony this is permissible. No additions may be made to the ritual as herewith presented, since the ritual is subject to review and approval by the National Council, Boy Scouts of America, as well as the Executive Committee of the National Lodge of the Order of the Arrow.
The Vigil Honor ceremony presented in the 1940 pamphlet has undergone minimal changes since it was presented. It is a testament to the fine work of “Shorty” Ralston and his able committee.