It looks much like a bird's eye, this musical symbol. Its name is an Italian word that means pause or hold.
I've heard it said that a fermata is often employed in religious music and hymns that date back several hundred years, when such music was composed for playing in the huge cathedrals of Europe and England. These cavernous, towering brick and stone structures can produce loud echoes that grow and compound, until the music sung or played becomes an almost indefinable combination of sounds. To prevent this from occurring, the musicians or singers would perform more deliberately, or pause, or hold certain notes until the reverberations could fade.
The fermata concept can be very helpful in everyday life, as well. A friend of mine one day found her employment suddenly terminated. This led her to feel devastated and gloomy. She had held this position for many years and loved her work. And at her age, she wondered, what could she do?
My friend was inclined to respond to this situation in prayer. She had learned much about how to pray from studying Christian Science, which was discovered in 1866 by the founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy. My friend knew that effective prayer reveals the harmony of God in our lives.
Doubt and fear, like the resounding echoes that build up in those old cathedrals, had become compounded in my friend's thoughts. So, she decided she would spend one whole day in which she'd just pray, seeking to understand God's control of her life. She was prepared to hold to the spiritual truth, the fact, that she was God's likeness, perfectly sustained by Him. She wanted this truth to occupy her thought and be clearly evident to her. Then she knew she could expect the negative, fearful, uncertain thoughts of unemployment and age discrimination to fade away, to no longer echo in her consciousness.
My friend was employing what you might call a mental fermata. She held this "note" of prayer all day long, and for several more days. And consistent recognition of the good power of God dispersed her doubts, fears, and gloom. In their place she found a clear, true resonance of spiritual harmony and peace.
It wasn't long before my friend received several offers of employment. The job she chose was close to where she lived. The atmosphere and conditions were very pleasant; the salary was the same, and the benefits even exceeded what she'd had before. She'd found improvement over an employment situation that she had felt was irreplaceable.
We often need to resort to prayer if we want to find reliable freedom from the fears, intimidations, and negative influences of daily living. We can safely turn our thinking away from discordant, disturbing thoughts of any kind - and direct it to God, to an understanding and acceptance of the spiritual fact that He is good. That His power is supreme. That God's laws, which Mrs. Eddy named Christian Science, are harmonious, govern all.
Psalms says, "Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord" (27:14). Similarly, the Christian Science textbook encourages: "Wait patiently for divine Love [God] to move upon the waters of mortal mind, and form the perfect concept. Patience must 'have her perfect work' " (Eddy, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 454). This describes prayer. It brings thinking into tune with spiritual reality and peace to our lives, eliminating the unsettled states of thought that so often result from worry and fear. It proves what Christ Jesus said, that "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). The power of Truth and Love (two names for God) is the only true power.
"Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts" (Science and Health, Pg. 261). As you persist patiently in holding your thoughts to spiritual fact, in accord with God's law of harmony, the discordant, echoing doubts and fears will begin disappearing - and the harmony and inseparability of God and you, His child, will rule your life.
Prayer that includes the frequent employment of a fermata in thought can make all the difference in harmonizing the music of daily living!