The theme of the work is Jesus as the conqueror of the works of the devil, who is frequently mentioned as the serpent. The music is festively scored, using two horns, similar to Part IV of Bach's later Christmas Oratorio. The text by an unknown poet is organised in eight movements, beginning with a choral movement on the biblical text, followed by a sequence of recitatives and arias which is structured as three stanzas from three different hymns. Only two of these hymns are Christmas carols.
Bach used the opening chorus for the concluding in his 1738 Missa in F major, BWV 233.