Sistine Chapel becomes recording studio for papal choir’s newest CD

A rock album release will also feature Pope Francis' words and prayers.

VATICAN CITY — One of the oldest choirs in the world recorded a CD of their repertoire of sacred music surrounded by the famed frescoes of Michelangelo, Perugino, Pinturicchio and Botticelli.

The Sistine Chapel is illuminated with LED lighting at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2014. (CNS photo | Paul Haring)

Marking the first professional studio recording to take place in the Sistine Chapel, the pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir features on a new CD titled, “Cantate Domino.” Produced by Deutsche Grammophon and Universal Music Italia, the new 16-track CD was released Sept. 25 with the proceeds earmarked for the poor through the pope’s charitable efforts.

The Sistine Chapel Choir, made up of 20 men and 30 boys, sings music that had been written specifically for papal celebrations in the Sistine Chapel and for the papal choir during the Renaissance.

The pieces include Gregorian chant and works by Renaissance masters Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Tomas Luis de Victoria, Orlande de Lassus and Felice Anerio. It also features a world premiere recording of Gregorio Allegri’s original composition of “Miserere” — found archived in a codex from 1661 in the Vatican Library.

Msgr. Massimo Palombella — director of the Sistine Chapel Choir — said in a press release Sept. 28: “It is my hope that these masterworks will touch millions of listeners worldwide, and connect them to the historical culture and deep spirituality of the Catholic Church.”

He told Vatican Radio that the pontifical choir, which traces back to the 1470s, is dedicated today to making its music known beyond the walls of Vatican City and to helping people experience “the Lord, salvation, evangelization” through sacred music.

Meanwhile, San Paolo Multimedia will be releasing sometime in November, “Wake Up!” a rock album featuring Pope Francis’ words and prayers.

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Sept. 29 that San Paolo had permission to use the voice of the pope for the album, which is being distributed by the label, Believe Digital, and is being made available on iTunes.

Layered over original scores of pop and prog-rock music are original Vatican Radio recordings of Pope Francis as he delivered, live, important talks or prayers in four languages.

For example, “Wake Up!”, the title song featured on the album, uses a clip of the pope from his homily during Mass with young people in South Korea in August 2014. Speaking in English, the pope says, “I don’t like to see young people who are sleeping. No! Wake up! Go! Go forward! Dear young people, ‘God, our God, has blessed us.'”