The steps of London's historic Westminster Cathedral was the site where a gifted trio of Irish Roman Catholic priests signed a contract with Sony BMG for their first album set for U.S. release on RCA Victor Records on Nov. 18.
The priests, comprised of two brothers, Eugene O' Hagan, 48, and Martin O' Hagan, 45, together with David Delargy, 44, commenced recording in Dublin, then moved on to Belfast and the Vatican. Their album will include performances in Latin, Spanish, German, Italian, and English of such enduring classics of faith as "Ave Maria," "Panis Angelicus," "Abide With Me," and "O Holy Night."
The priests are working with legendary producer Mike Hedges, known for his work with U2, The Cure, and – in a foreshadowing of his current assignment -- the Manic Street Preachers. The trio is accompanied by the Vatican Choir on the recording, arranged and conducted by Pablo Colino, the emeritus director of music at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.
A major television special is in the works, as well as an international launch event scheduled for September at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Northern Ireland.
The singing talent of the three men was first recognized at Queen's University in Belfast and during their studies for the priesthood at the Irish College in Rome. During the latter period, the three singers were invited by the Papal Master of Ceremonies to sing for the pope in the sacred liturgy.
Upon the recording was completed, the Roman Catholic priests returned to Ireland to the Diocese of Down and Connor where each continued to tend to the spiritual needs of parishioners and to the official duties of the church. The global recording contract exempts each member from undertaking any promotional or recording duties. The trio has also stipulated that a percentage of revenue from record sales be donated to a charity of their choice.
"We have been inundated with good wishes from our brother priests, from parishioners, and from many friends in the music world," said Father Eugene O' Hagan in a blog entry at . "It was our intention to make a record for posterity…but imagine what we felt like when Sony BMG popped up out of nowhere and expressed an interest. Fantastic -- unbelievable!"