Not Your Average Christmas Music: this year, why not listen to Alma Mater by Pope Benedict XVI himself, recorded at London’s famous Abbey Road studios.

“I am convinced that music really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth.” – Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI is a self-describer lover of all things music. An accomplished pianist himself, he’s especially a fan of classical music. His favorite composer is Mozart, whose music he said affected him greatly as a young man and “deeply penetrated his soul.”

“His music is by no means just entertainment; it contains the whole tragedy of human existence.”

In 2009, Benedict XVI took his own step into the classical world when he signed to Geffen Records, whose stars have included Guns n’ Roses, Elton John, Donna Summer and Snoop Dogg, John Lennon, and Aerosmith.

His Christmas album, Alma Mater, was recorded in at London’s famous Abbey Road studios and also Saint Peter’s Basilica. The retired pontiff was accompanied by The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Alma Mater features eight original pieces of modern classical music dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and features the voice of Pope Benedict XVI speaking and singing in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French, and German.

You can listen to the album below:

Also watch below a rare video of Benedict XVI playing piano publicly when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger:

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