Pope Benedict XVI 'to release album in time for Christmas'

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London, July 31 (ANI): Pope Benedict XVI is said to have signed a deal to release an album of him singing chants in the Vatican in time for Christmas.

The album 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.

"When you are sitting in the Basilica listening to it, you suddenly think that you are hearing something that could be incredibly special," the Telegraph quoted him as saying.

"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.

Barlow thought the album would make "a great Christmas present", and 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 Barlow.

"To break up a beautiful album digitally would be wrong," he said.

He also hopes it would sell in large numbers globally, with there being such a huge Catholic following.

"There's quite a huge Catholic fan base out there," he added.

Though details are yet to be finalised, a proportion of profits will go to a charity that will provide musical education for poor children around the world.

While the remainder is expected to be split between the Vatican and Universal.

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. (ANI)

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