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(RNS) Pope Benedict XVI has signed with a major record label to cut an album of songs and prayers to the Virgin Mary.
Geffen Records, whose artists include Ashlee Simpson and Snoop Dogg, will release “Alma Mater,” featuring the pope’s chants and prayers along with eight original classical compositions, on Nov. 30.
Benedict’s voice, in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French and German, was recorded in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and during papal trips abroad.
The pope will be accompanied by a choir recorded in Rome. The album will also feature classical music by an international group of composers of various faiths, to be performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at London’s Abbey Road studios, most famous for its association with the Beatles.
“The Pope has got almost a lullaby tone to the way he sings,”
Geffen’s president Colin Barlow told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, adding that the album will make a “great Christmas present.”
“There’s quite a huge Catholic fan base out there,” Barlow noted.
A portion of the profits from sales will support music education for underprivileged children around the world.
In his recording venture, Benedict follows the lead of his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who released several albums during his 26-year pontificate, including one of him praying the Rosary. According to the BBC, that album rose to number 50 on the sales charts.
— Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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