The most conservative of Buxtehude’s settings are those in the format of chorale versets, continuing the tradition of Scheidemann and Weckmann (though avoiding the scale of Weckmann’s larger cycles), but Buxtehude’s individual voice is arguably heard more clearly in the freedom of the fantasias and in the more intimate surroundings of the chorale prelude.
One of his most attractive chorale works to display a wide variety of approaches is his setting of the Epiphany chorale Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern. The composition comprises three different sections in triple time (6/4, 6/8, 12/8, probably implying a gradual increase in tempo) broken up by a single passage in common time which concludes with a free cadential section, similar to connecting passages in the contemporary praeludium.
Stylistically there are both conservative and modern elements, the former evident in the demisemiquaver flourishes and echos, the latter in the modern harmonic sequences and gigue-like idiom adopted in the concluding sections, reflecting the cross-over of sacred and secular styles seen in the chorale suite.
At the opening of the work Buxtehude leaves the characteristic rising fifth of the chorale melody clearly audible before introducing a lilting pastorale idiom in the upper voices