II Corinthians 5:1

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

Many of the first two or three generations of English-language hymnwriters wrote expository songs. But both for quality and quantity, three names tower above the rest: Isaac Watts, John Newton, and Charles Wesley. Interestingly, all three took on this passage.

Isaac Watts’ “There Is A House Not Made With Hands” could be sung to the tune of “When I Can Read My Title Clear”:

There is a house not made with hands,
Eternal and on high;
And here my spirit waiting stands,
And here my spirit waiting stands,
Till God shall bid it fly.

Shortly this prison of my clay
Must be dissolved and fall,
Then, O my soul! with joy obey
Then, O my soul! with joy obey
Thy Heavenly Father’s call.

‘Tis He, by His almighty grace,
That forms thee fit for heaven,
And as an earnest of the place,
And as an earnest of the place,
Has His own Spirit given.

We walk by faith of joys to come,
Faith lives upon His word;
But while the body is our home,
But while the body is our home,
We’re absent from the Lord.

John Newton offered his reflection on the passage from a somewhat more earthly vantage point.

My soul, this curious house of clay,
Thy present frail abode;
Must quickly fall to worms a prey,
And thou return to GOD.

Canst thou, by faith, survey with joy
The change, before it come?
And say, “Let death this house destroy,
I have a heav’nly home!”

The Savior, whom I then shall see
With new admiring eyes,
Already has prepared for me,
A mansion in the skies.

I feel this mud–walled cottage shake,
And long to see it fall;
That I my willing flight may take
To him who is my all.

Burdened and groaning, then no more,
My rescued soul shall sing,
As up the shining path I soar,
“Death, thou hast lost thy sting.”

Dear Savior, help us now to seek,
And know thy grace’s power;
That we may all this language speak,
Before the dying hour.

Charles Wesley’s interpretation of the passage starts with a straightforward declaration of truth, before pivoting to a call to holiness in the last verse.

We know, by faith we know,
If this vile house of clay
This tabernacle, sink below
In ruinous decay;
We have a House above,
Not made with mortal hands;
And firm as our Redeemer’s Love
That heavenly fabric stands.

It stand securely high,
Indissolubly sure;
Our glorious mansion in the sky
Shall evermore endure.
O may we enter there,
To perfect heaven restored!
O may we be caught up to share
The triumph of our Lord!

O let us put on Thee
In perfect holiness,
And rise prepared Thy face to see,
Thy bright, unclouded face!
Thy grace with glory crown,
Who hast the earnest given;
And then triumphantly come down,
And take us up to heaven!

These three writers were each the greatest hymnwriter of their generation, and indisputably among the greatest of any generation. To see how they each interpreted the same passage tells us much about the scope of interpretations yet possible for the writers who would take on passages that haven’t been as well covered yet.

II Corinthians 5:8

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Isaac Watts used this passage as a starting point for rejoicing in eternal life in a heavenly body.

Absent from flesh! O blissful thought!
What unknown joys this moment brings!
Freed from the mischiefs sin has brought,
From pains, and fears, and all their springs.

Absent from flesh! illustrious day!
Surprising scene! triumphant stroke
That rends the prison of my clay;
And I can feel my fetters broke.

Absent from flesh! then rise, my soul,
Where feet nor wings could never climb,
Beyond the heavens, where planets roll,
Measuring the cares and joys of time.

I go where God and glory shine,
His presence makes eternal day:
My all that’s mortal I resign,
For angels wait and point my way.

II Corinthians 5:17

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Several excellent songs refer to this passage. One of the strongest is from a 1990s CCM duo, Watermark:

Expository Songs

Hope Beyond The Grave (II Corinthians 5:1-4) (1779)
John Newton | Popularized by Olney Hymns (1779)
Lyrics | Sheet Music

There Is A House Not Made With Hands (II Corinthians 5:1-7) (1709)
Isaac Watts | Popularized by Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs (1707-09)
Lyrics | Sheet Music

Soon shall this earthly frame, dissolved (II Corinthians 5:1-11)
Lyrics

City Not Made With Hands (II Corinthians 5:1) (2004)
Todd Allen | Popularized by The Perrys
Amazon

House Not Made With Hands (II Corinthians 5:1)
Phil Cross | Popularized by Poet Voices
YouTube

Not Made With Hands (II Corinthians 5:1)
Greg Tingler | Popularized by Gold City
YouTube

Not Made with Hands (II Corinthians 5:1)
Ulysses Phillips
Lyrics

We know, by faith, we know (II Corinthians 5:1)
Charles Wesley
Lyrics | Sheet Music

By Faith and Not By Sight (II Corinthians 5:7)
Clara Brooks
Lyrics | Sheet Music

Walk By Faith (II Corinthians 5:7) (2004)
Popularized by Jeremy Camp
YouTube | Amazon

We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight (II Corinthians 5:7)
Henry Alford
Lyrics | Sheet Music

Absent From Flesh (II Corinthians 5:8) (1709)
Isaac Watts | Popularized by Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707-09)
Lyrics

New Creation (II Corinthians 5:17) (2017)
Popularized by Third Day
YouTube | Amazon

Other References

All the Evidence I Need (II Corinthians 5:7)
Mark Harris, Dan Koch, Keith Dudley | Popularized by 4Him
Lyrics | YouTube | Amazon

By Faith (II Corinthians 5:7) (2009)
Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend | Popularized by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Lyrics | Sheet Music | YouTube | Amazon

Faith in the Joys of Heaven (II Corinthians 5:7)
Anne Steele
Lyrics

Leave Your Eyes Behind (II Corinthians 5:7) (2003)
Popularized by Scott Krippayne
Lyrics | YouTube | Amazon

Walk On By Faith (II Corinthians 5:7)
Popularized by Mahalia Jackson
Lyrics | YouTube | Amazon

Walkin’ by Faith (II Corinthians 5:7)
Melton Campbell, Daron Osborne | Popularized by The Inspirations
YouTube | Amazon

When Faith Steps In (II Corinthians 5:7)
Leigh Sexton | Popularized by The McKameys
YouTube | Amazon

I’ll Live for Him (II Corinthians 5:15)
Ralph E. Hudson
Lyrics | Sheet Music

All Things New (II Corinthians 5:17)
Steven Curtis Chapman | Popularized by Steven Curtis Chapman
Lyrics | YouTube | Amazon

All Things New (II Corinthians 5:17)
Popularized by Watermark
YouTube | Amazon

He Made a Change (II Corinthians 5:17)
Joel Lindsey, Ernie Haase | Popularized by The Cathedrals
YouTube | Amazon

I’m In A New World (II Corinthians 5:17)
V.B. “Vep” Ellis | Popularized by Greater Vision
YouTube

Let The Waters Roll (II Corinthians 5:17) (1987)
Popularized by Don Francisco
YouTube | Amazon

New Creation (II Corinthians 5:17) (2003)
Popularized by Glad
YouTube | Amazon

Creation Sings (II Corinthians 5:19) (2008)
Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend | Popularized by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Lyrics | Sheet Music | YouTube | Amazon

High and Lifted Up (II Corinthians 5:19)
Dianne Wilkinson | Popularized by The Cathedrals
YouTube | Amazon

Joy Has Dawned (II Corinthians 5:19) (2004)
Keith Getty, Stuart Townend | Popularized by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Lyrics | Sheet Music | YouTube | Amazon

The King’s Business (II Corinthians 5:20)
Elijah T. Cassel
Lyrics | Sheet Music

We Are Ambassadors For Christ (II Corinthians 5:20) (1779)
John Newton | Popularized by Olney Hymns (1779)
Lyrics

In Christ Alone (II Corinthians 5:21) (2001)
Keith Getty, Stuart Townend | Popularized by Keith and Kristyn Getty
Lyrics | Sheet Music | YouTube | Amazon

Who But God (II Corinthians 5:21) (1997)
Popularized by Wes King
YouTube | Amazon

You can help improve this project! If you know another expository song from this chapter, let us know!