Scripture Verse

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

Introduction

illustration
Abraham & Three Angels
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
1696–1770

Words: Cla­ra H. Thwaites, Songs for La­bour and Lei­sure (Lon­don: James Nis­bet, 1885), pag­es 1–2.

Music: So­li­tude (Prout) Eb­en­ezer Prout (1835–1909) (🔊 pdf nwc).

If you know where to get a good pic­ture of Thwaites (head & shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

portrait
Ebenezer Prout
1835–1909

Lyrics

They come to us in sim­ple guise,
In com­mon garb. In sooth
They are not love­ly in our eyes,
Though fair in love and truth.
We greet them cold­ly; af­ter years
We call them An­gels Una­wares.

There is no ha­lo round their brow,
As pic­tured saint may bear;
Nay, ra­ther, sor­row marks them now
With stain of grief or tear.
And smil­ing sa­tire scarce­ly spares
These mourn­ful An­gels Una­wares.

They have no elo­quence of speech
For us, with flu­ent flow;
And yet their love­ly lives might reach
The heights which an­gels know.
We scarce­ly note the beau­ty theirs,
Till lost—these An­gels Una­wares.

Or some we scorn! How strange it is
That looks should vex us thus!
That we should spurn, be­cause we miss
Some man­ner dear to us!
When Me­mo­ry sings her ten­der airs
She calls them An­gels Una­wares.

We deem ’twere ea­si­er far of old
Some san­daled saint to greet,
On tent­ed plain, when skies were gold,
And ori­ent airs were sweet.
Saints meet us now ’mid throng­ing cares
Pass on—are An­gels Una­wares.

Sweet songs they sing, brave words they say,
Unheeded though they be,
Until, the sing­er caught away,
We learn their mys­te­ry:
Then, sing­ing up the gold­en stairs,
They beck­on—An­gels Una­wares.

O would we pause, with Christ-like grace,
To aid our fel­low-men,
Be not too bu­sy in life’s race
To love as breth­ren:
Across life’s waste would blow soft airs,
While ang­els walk, not Una­wares.