Are tilers (tylers; spelling?) still essential to the lodge? Are lodges still on the “lookout” for “eavesdroppers, cowans” and other non-initiates or is this position more of just a ceremonial tradition?
Are the tilers even part of lodge meetings, or are they always guarding the lodge door?
Funny story. About 2 months ago while having a lesson turned in we heard this loud banging over and over again in the dining room. Turns out the tyler/tiler starting busting ice for the meal, sounded like he was breaking the wall down. We joke about him preforming his duties.
He can also be the warning of impending natural disasters .. there was an occasion when my late father was acting as Tyler when there was an absolute deluge and he came in without warning to let us know that we were about to get flooded .. and we were!
Our Tyler usually performs his ceremonial duties and then steps into the lodge room for the meeting. When his duties are required again, he steps out. Lately, we have had some homeless people sneaking into the building to spend a warm night there. The Tyler has had to perform more than his ceremonial duties as a result and stays outside the room on guard.
In some lodges, the Tiler may also assist in candidate preparation. Officially this is usually the responsibility of the Stewards and Jr. Deacon, but the Tiler is typically more experienced so he may check on them to make sure they’re preparing the candidate correctly.
The above responses have pretty much covered the duties of the Tyler (or Tiler—both spellings are correct).
However, the importance of this position has not been emphasized. We all know that a lodge can not be opened without a Master and two wardens, so they are the essential officers of the lodge. But so is the Tyler. Every lodge, when open, must be tiled; therefore, the Tyler is as essential as the top three officers.
The choice of a Tyler is important, since he is the public face of the lodge when it is at work. He greets all members and visitors and should make them welcome. Frequently, in a Masonic procession such as at funerals or memorial services, or in a public parade, the Tyler goes first, in the lead position.