Luther wrote the hymn focused on baptism as part of his teaching about Lutheran concepts, possibly as the last hymn he wrote. Luther held sermons about baptism in the Easter week of 1540; it seems likely that he wrote the hymn in the context.
In the Lutheran liturgy, the hymn was related to the feast day of John the Baptist.
The melody in Dorian mode is older than the text and appeared already in 1524 in Johann Walter's choral hymnal Eyn geystlich Gesangk Buchleyn with the hymn "Es wolle Gott uns gnädig sein" (a paraphrase of Psalm 67), likely created by Walter.
In the Dutch reformed hymnbook a new text is made on the melody, suited for use during Epiphany.