Only two cantatas from the Feast of Epiphany survive by Bach. In addition there is, of course, the sixth part of the Christmas Oratorio. Both the Christmas Oratorio and Cantata BWV 65 are directly related to the story of the wise men. For some reason in the 2nd Jahrgang, Bach's libretto has hardly a reference to the Epiphany. There certainly is a touch of Orientalism about the opening chorus, but otherwise the text and character is firmly ensconced in the world of self-denial and rejection. The opening chorus is one of the most insistently monothematic pieces that Bach ever wrote. Every single bar is permeated with the repeated note bell-like figure that opens the cantata [#1 Bar 1,2 oboe d'amore 1]. The chorale is irregular in form: four phrases that are then repeated. The second section has three phrases that are also repeated in the four-voice version at the end but are not in the opening chorus. Bach goes to great lengths to introduce variety in both the phrasing and the harmonic underpinnings of the one theme. But the chorale tune is very long, and one has a feeling that this is a very daring and resourceful experiment that didn't quite succeed. Another problem is that nothing in the text or the readings for the day really supports the notion of bell-ringing of this magnitude.
After a secco alto recitative, the tenor aria with two oboes d'amore comes as a complete contrast. Here the long, arching chromatic phrases of the oboes create a perfect picture of the “Kreuzesreise.” The form of this da capo is unusual. The first phrase of the B section is a fiery allegro, The last two are in the opening Lento tempo, but rather free, almost recitative-like in their character.
The secco bass recitative introduces harrowing new dangers remarkably uncharacterized. The aria is interesting. Clearly the solo flute for Bach implies a lonely Pastorale element. The tune itself is folky, but its development and combination is resourceful. This aria is also a da capo, perhaps a bit unvaried for its length. The chorale is block-like, so extreme in its lack of internal counterpoint that Bach must have had something in mind, but it is a mystery what it was.