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In the course of composing his Easter Oratorio (BWV 249), Bach reworked a secular cantata, Entfliehet, verschwindet, entweichet, ihr Sorgen (BWV 249a), that he had written for the 25 February 1725 birthday of Duke Christian of Saxe-Weißenfels. Already a month later, Bach performed the work as a sacred cantata with a new Easter text and recitatives, and then in August 1726 it was refashioned for Count Joachim Friedrich von Flemming as a dramma per musica entitled Die Feier des Genius: Verjaget, zerstreuet, zerrüttet, Ihr Sterne (BWV 249b). Finally, in the mid-1730s, Bach returned to the Easter cantata, expanded its voicing and renamed it the Easter Oratorio.

In its final form, the Easter Oratorio includes neither chorales nor a narrator. Instead, in the style of a medieval mystery play acted out by four soloists, the well-known story revolves around Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer, a tenor aria gently accompanied by recorders and muted strings. Otherwise, with three trumpets and timpani, the joyous occasion is celebrated with two sinfonias and many dance movements, including a tempo di minuetto, a bourée, a gavotte and a gigue.