Pope Benedict XVI has the chance of a Christmas number one in the pop charts after signing a record deal to release an album of him singing chants in the Vatican
By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent Published: 12:01AM BST 31 Jul 2009
It will feature the Pope singing litanies and chants in honour of the Virgin Mary, as well as reciting passages and prayers in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French and German.
The recordings were made in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, with the Pope accompanied by The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome.
They will be blended with modern classical recordings by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is recording its contribution at the Abbey Road studios in London.
It will be released on CD on November 30 on Universal's Geffen label, which was behind Donna Summer's gold-selling disco record The Wanderer as well as John Lennon's last album, Double Fantasy.
Producers at Vatican Radio came up with the idea and invited music executives to Rome to consider signing His Holiness.
Colin Barlow, the president of Geffen, admitted to being "sceptical" about the Pontiff's musical appeal before hearing him.
But he said: "When you are sitting in the Basilica listening to it, you suddenly think that you are hearing something that could be incredibly special.
"It's a beautiful a piece of music as the soundtrack to the film The Mission."
"The Pope has got almost a lullaby tone to the way he sings," he said.
He thought the album would make "a great Christmas present".
One aspect of the album will be reassuringly traditional – it will not be sold as a digital download.
"I think this is going to be something that you would like to own," explained Mr Barlow. "To break up a beautiful album digitally would be wrong."
He hoped it would sell in large numbers globally, noting: "There's quite a huge Catholic fan base out there."
A proportion of profits will go to a charity that will provide musical education for poor children around the world. The remainder is expected to be split between the Vatican and Universal. Details have yet to be finalised.
The music executive said Geffen also had plans to re-record an album of Pope John Paul II praying in 1999, called Abba Pater, which he said had been put to an "odd" keyboard accompaniment, with classical backing tracks instead.
From the Telegraph: