This seven-minute composition is far from being a cantata as the term is commonly understood (a multi-section vocal composition), and even less so according to the usage of Buxtehude's own time, which reserved "cantata" for secular compositions. For once we know in this case the date and occasion of a Buxtehude cantata. It was composed in 1671 for the funeral of Superintendent Menno Hanneken, a town official of Lübeck, where Buxtehude worked. Three years later Buxtehude brought about a repeat performance, this time with an additional section, a Klagelied or Elegy, this time for the funeral of his own father.
The opening sections (Contrapunctus I, Evolutio, Contrapunctus II, and Evolutio) are written on an open score with no indications as to instruments or voices. The work is a setting of a Martin Luther chorale, adapted from Luke 2: 30-32 ("With Peace and Joy I Depart"). It is in strict four-part counterpoint. The second part redistributes and transposes the voices, so that the bass changes places with the soprano, and the alto with the tenor. The second Contrapunctus is based on the same melody, but is in even more elaborate counterpoint. The final Evolutio is a transposed mirror version of Contrapunctus II. In all, the cantata is an elaborate display of compositional technique, and it may played a part in influencing Johann Sebastian Bach to write his Art of Fugue and other dazzling contrapuntal displays.
The final Dirge is a simple song, on a poetic text probably by the composer. It is sung above tremolo strings throughout, and is written for soprano, two string parts, and basso continuo.