Lessons from The Pied Piper of Hamlet

Maybe one of my favorite stories is the ageless tale of The Pied Piper of Hamlet. After watching the short movie this week, I have put the story into my own words. After reading this, notice at the end of the story, I gave some insight to the youth culture and the church in America. Enjoy. 


After a town is infested by rats, the city council had to do something. Nothing worked. They tried construction, noise, poison, and harm to the rats. But, they couldn’t get rid of them. At their lowest point, a man came to the council and told them he could fix their problem. He had done it before in many places. After talking with the musician, they agreed to pay him $1000. And so they hired a Piper to play his sound and to hope that the rats would leave their town. And, of course, they did.

But, now rid of the rats, the council decides to go back on their word. Ungrateful of their new found freedom. They decided not to pay the Pied Piper. And so, he returns to town with a different tune…

And as he played, through the streets, there was sound heard so sweet. Into the enraptured air was a call to the children from everywhere. Little hands clapping, and little feet dancing, little voices laughing. Out came the children running, skipping and dancing following after the Piper so fast.

After him the children pressed, the joy of the streets had quickly left. As the Piper advanced to the mountains beyond the town, arm in arm the children followed. It became quiet and still and ever so hollow, with the children gone and after the Piper they followed.

The Piper led the children out of town and into the mountains. Away from their sight. And no one in town could see the children; their running, their skipping, or even their dancing. They did not hear talking or laughing, gone was the joy and the little one’s prancing. The Piper played until every last child followed him to the mountain. Out of town. Out of sight. But, not out of mind. 

With the children gone no laughing in town, nor running and dancing or joking around. The faces were sad, the shoulders were shrugged, the people were looking ahead for some love. The flowers seemed gone, the birds too were few, nothing seemed right from everyone’s point of view. With the children gone they were thinking to self, ‘why didn’t we think to love them ourself’.

Alas, as the council sat wondering and thinking and glum, someone came up with a plan to ease the situation they were in. A text came to their mind that heaven’s gate is opened to the rich. The council sent east, west, north, and south, to offer the Piper by word of mouth, silver and gold to his heart’s content, if he’d only return the way he went and bring back the children for the payment.

But when nothing happened and no music would play they realized that the children were all gone away. And that price is not found or bribe ever able, to bring back the child and cure what now ails. And so in the place where the children had left, talking and playing and dancing on feet, the council made a decree that the place would be called, The Pied Piper’s street.

And opposite the place of that street was a church, and on windows of that church for all to see, the story of the children was written down, how all of their children, each of their children, every last child was stolen from town.

What can we learn from this great folklore? There are many lessons for the church as we apply the lesson of The Pied Piper of Hamlet:

  1. There is no greater influence upon a culture than its children
  2. When we lose what attracts children, we lose children
  3. At any cost we must embrace and promote what keeps children 
  4. Learn that there are many things that can steal away our children
  5. Music is a powerful tool for reaching our children
  6. Invest in the things that matter. Things that create a culture for children.
  7. Our culture will become oppressed without a focus upon children