Scripture Verse

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


Abraham & Three Angels
Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

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-and-shoul­ders, at least 200×300 pix­els),

Ebenezer Prout


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.