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Song Discovery: “Come to the River (River of Life)” – Michael Farren On the Richness of Simple Hymns

Song Discovery: “Come to the River (River of Life)” – Michael Farren On the Richness of Simple Hymns

Joshua Swanson

In the heart of Nashville’s vibrant music scene, I sat down with the acclaimed songwriter and worship leader, Michael Farren, to unravel the magic behind Simple Hymns. With a genuine smile and a big heart, Farren shared insights into his journey of rediscovering hymns, particularly through the standout track, “Come to the River (River of Life).”

Chord Charts and Lyrics Below

Simple Hymns: Where Simplicity Meets Theological Beauty

Farren, a familiar face in the worship music community, spoke passionately about the vision behind Simple Hymns, emphasizing its pure pursuit of providing honest, theologically correct, and beautifully sung hymns for congregations.

“I think simple hymns, it comes from a simple place and a simple heart of just trying to provide hymns for the church to sing in a very honest and theologically correct and beautifully sung way,” Farren shared, setting the stage for the conversation.

Fanny Crosby’s Hidden Gems: Crafting “Come to the River (River of Life)”

The conversation delved into the origins of “Come to the River (River of Life),” a hymn crafted from the discovered lyrics of the legendary Fanny Crosby. Farren spoke eloquently about the process of diving into Crosby’s extensive catalog, expressing the awe and laughter he experienced while unearthing hidden treasures.Come To The River (River of Life) Cover Art

“There’s a richness to what you’re singing that just resonates way down deep because you could take the lyric and you could literally… I mean, if we’re honest, I’m nostalgic about hymns and hymn melodies and hymn forms and formulas,” Farren reflected.

Richness of Hymns: A Thread of Theological Truth

As the conversation flowed, Farren explored the enduring appeal of hymns, highlighting their ability to convey a profound richness of theological truth. He praised the writers of old for weaving a specific theology thread, making the gospel the focal point.

“They were less concerned with lyric and melody and more concerned with making sure the gospel was represented,” Farren noted. “It’s complete accessibility. And so I think for me, it’s equal parts richness of remembering who I am and remembering who Jesus is to me.”

Modern Hymns: A Unique Connection with Younger Generations

The interview took an intriguing turn as Farren discussed the surprising demographics driving the popularity of modern hymns, citing a particular song resonating strongly with 20-somethings. This revelation sparked a conversation about the younger generation’s hunger for rootedness and authenticity in their worship experience.

“I think that generation is very uniquely looking to feel rooted, yes, they want to feel rooted in truth and something that feels rooted in ancient to them,” Farren remarked, shedding light on a trend shaping worship music.

Prophetic Songwriting and Connecting with the Culture

As the conversation unfolded, Farren offered insights into his prophetic approach to songwriting, acknowledging the ever-present inspiration flowing from the Spirit. He also shared a fascinating shift in his current songwriting focus, emphasizing a move towards plain and conversational language to engage a broader audience.

“So I find myself pushing into a conversational style of writing, but it’s still worshipful, but it’s very conversational. It’s, I hope, inviting to a listener that’s not accustomed to it,” Farren explained.

The Influence of AI on Songwriting

In a final flourish, Farren dismissed any concerns about the encroaching influence of AI on songwriting, asserting that the authentic, soulful expression of human experience will always prevail.

In this captivating interview, Michael Farren unraveled the layers of his musical journey, from the sacred hymns that shaped his childhood to the diverse genres he now explores. With an unwavering commitment to authenticity and an unapologetic approach to his craft, Farren’s story serves as an inspiration for worship leaders and songwriters alike.

As Simple Hymns continues to make waves in the worship music landscape, Michael Farren stands as a beacon, reminding us all that, in the pursuit of musical excellence, the human spirit and its connection to the divine will forever outshine the artificial.


Come to the River (River of Life)

Verse 1:

Come to the river
Weary and depressed
Afraid and out of breath
Come and find your rest

Come to the river
Desperate without hope
With nowhere else to go
Come find this crimson flow


Come to the river
The river of life
Run to the Savior
To the arms of Christ

Verse 2:

Come to the river
Poured out from His veins
It washes all our stains
Where sinners become saints


The Spirit and the Bride say come
What are you waiting for
The Spirit and the Bride say come
What are you waiting for

Verse 3:

Come to the river
That flows from Heaven’s throne
And rushes to His own
It’s time that you come home

Written by Fanny Crosby, Joni Lamb, Joshua Brown, Rebecca Lamb Weiss, Jesse Reeves, Michael Farren ©2020 Venture3 Global (BMI) admin by Music Services, Venture3 Publishing (ASCAP) admin by Music Services, WriterWrong/BEC Worship (BMI) admin by Music Services

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