As leader of the church in Hippo, Augustine was required to exercise pastoral care for the people in his church who, although in admiration of him, nevertheless lacked some discipline.
Although personally courageous himself, Augustine did not have the temperament to win instant obedience from a volatile and potentially violent crowd.
Augustine became an exception to this rule, however, in the year 393, by which time he was being asked to preach in place of his bishop, Valeruis, who was infirm from then until his death in the year 395 (when Augustine succeeded him).
He regularly preached twice a week, often on several consecutive days, and sometimes twice in the one day.
He dialogued with the people listening to him. Sometimes he had to chide them, to calm them down because they reacted with moans and groans, and sometimes they laughed.
He enjoyed having them as an audience and they enjoyed being with him.
In line with the custom of the time, Augustine was seated when preaching, and his audience was standing. The people were as close as fifteen paces (20 feet) from him.
It is estimated that in his long life Augustine preached about 8,000 times. His powerful presence gave weight and vigour to his preaching.
His mastery of rhetoric and his insight into human nature allowed him to move the people listening to him.
With characteristic kindness he always agreed to do so, although he complained that because of this he - the one who had been drawn to the Christian faith by hearing Ambrose preach in Milan - never had the opportunity to hear others preaching.
Among the sermons he gave are his series on the Gospel of John, dogmatically among his most interesting works (preached in about the year 416), and his Commentary on the Psalms, partly being homilies that he preached between the years 410 and 420. Many of his homilies (sermons) have been preserved.